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The Importance of Being CivilThe Struggle for Political Decency$
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John A. Hall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153261

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153261.001.0001

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Agreeing to Differ

Agreeing to Differ

(p.19) Chapter 1 Agreeing to Differ
The Importance of Being Civil

John A. Hall

Princeton University Press

This chapter presents an account of the social origins of civility in the course of an argument distinguishing civility from civil society—or, rather, insisting that civility must be included in the definition of civil society if that concept is to carry the weight placed upon it. Civil society is a form of societal self-organization that allows for cooperation with the state while permitting individuation. The chapter argues that civil society only “makes sense” when it contains a heavy dose of civility. The initial breakthrough to civilized acceptance of difference in Europe obviously predated the emergence of capitalism. However, capitalism did have something to do with the establishment of a culture of political civility in England, for soft political rule was not always present there; on the contrary, it was a historical achievement.

Keywords:   civility, civil society, societal self-organization, individuation, difference, Europe, capitalism, political civility

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