The “Plight of Civility” Today

  • Andrew PetersonEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


This introductory chapter situates the focus of the book in the context of the (real or perceived) “plight of civility” affecting western democracies. Drawing mainly on the UK and the USA, examples of this plight are given. The chapter outlines the core approach to civility taken in the book, and does so in two ways. First, the distinction between everyday civility and political civility is drawn. Establishing the book’s focus on the latter, it is argued that the concept of political civility comprises two components—civil conduct and mutual fellow-feeling. Drawing on Curzer’s (Curzer, In: Civility in politics and education, Routledge, New York, 2012a; Curzer, Aristotle and the virtues. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012b) understanding of civility as an Aristotelian virtue, it is argued that civility can usefully be viewed as an intermediate mean between an excess (unfailing civility) and a deficiency (incivility). Some broad reasons are offered for conceiving civility as an important civic virtue and as a key marker of the health of democratic life. The chapter also sets out the structure and focus of the remainder of the book.


Civility “Plight of civility” Civil conduct Fellow-feeling Virtue 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jubilee Centre for Character and VirtuesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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