We talked a bit today about ‘What-is-X?’ questions, and we examined an example in the Euthyphro with the case of the question, ‘What is Piety?’ For Socrates, not all answers count as good answers to these types of questions, but now you have an idea of what an appropriate sort of answer should look like. In particular, we don’t want an answer that only gives us a particular instance of an X (i.e. doing action A is pious), but a general description that captures all and only the characteristics shared by all things that are X.
Let’s take what we learned and apply it to a modern case that I (and maybe you) have been thinking about a lot recently: civility in modern politics, i.e. what is civility? While there a disagreement about whether we ought to be civil to one another despite our political views, it seems like there is pretty wide agreement over what actions count as civil or not (e.g. we might disagree about whether or not one ought to kick someone out of a restaurant for being part of a political group you strongly disagree with, but it seems most agree that such an action is a breakdown of civility). So what is civility? Try to formulate a sentence definition of the right sort, and then give a couple of sentences defending your reasoning. Not each answer has to be unique, but if you agree with someone else try to give further reasons or considerations in response to their post.
Some things to think about (but not necessarily to respond to): How is civility different from politeness (if it is)? from etiquette? Is civility the same for every sort of civil society? If so, it must not appeal to facts about our particular society. If not, it must. Is civility something that applies most directly to actions? or most directly to a person’s character? If civility is political, what makes it political?