New Spinoff piece on the need for civility in political debate

I have an interview up on the Spinoff today with Jeremy Waldron, one of the world’s most respected political and legal philosophers, on what he sees as the urgent need for more civility in public discussions. The full piece is here.

This is perhaps the key passage:

Civility, Waldron says, is about abiding by the rules which distinguish enemies from opponents. People have to see their political opponent “as a fellow citizen, committed like you to the common good. You need to have modes of engagement that allow you to argue, disagree, contradict each other, even involve a degree of political combativeness, without necessarily moving in steps that would intimate possible violence, possible personal denigration.”

And he has harsh words for people who don’t think civility is important:


Those who do not share this understanding draw his strongest criticism: “The person who believes that their passion exonerates them from the requirements of civility, the person who believes that their self-righteousness exonerates them from the requirements of civility, is the most dangerous person of all.”

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