Civility and Mutual Fellow-Feeling

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


This chapter examines the second component of political conduct introduced in Chap.  1—mutual fellow-feeling. Recognising the challenges of close communal bonds in contemporary, large, heterogeneous democracies, a case is made for conceiving the bonds between citizens in terms of an Aristotelian notion of civic friendship. The key argument of the chapter is that civility as a civic virtue for contemporary western democracies is strengthened when we understand it in relational terms and as intimately connected with a form of partnership between citizens who share a sense of mutual positive regard. In this sense, civility describes relationships (i.e. the relationship between A and B is civil or uncivil) and is supported or limited by the nature of our relationships (i.e. the positive regard between C and D supports civil conduct between them, while the dislike or hatred between X and Y severely limits civil conduct between them). Civility operates in a fluid and dynamic way, able to rise and fall, and can therefore be understood as a precious resource which requires constant attention, cultivation and protection within democratic societies through formative processes. This latter point, it will be argued, also acts as a reminder that where democratic processes and relationships are problematic—when they are, for instance, corrupt, overly antagonistic, un-inclusive and so on—this will be to the further detriment of levels of civility.


Civility Mutual fellow-feeling Well-wishing Civic friendship Formative processes 


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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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