Civil Disagreement

Civil Disagreement: Personal Integrity in a Pluralistic Society

Edward Langerak
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Civil Disagreement
    Book Description:

    How can we agree to disagree in today's pluralistic society, one in which individuals and groups are becoming increasingly polarized by fierce convictions that are often at odds with the ideas of others?Civil Disagreement: Personal Integrity in a Pluralistic Societyshows how we can cope with diversity and be appropriately open toward opponents even while staying true to our convictions. This accessible and useful guide discusses how our conversations and arguments can respect differences and maintain personal integrity and civility even while taking stances on disputed issues. The author examines an array of illustrative cases, such as debates over slavery, gay marriage, compulsory education for the Amish, and others, providing helpful insights on how to take firm stands without denigrating opponents. The author proposes an approach called "perspective pluralism" that honors the integrity of various viewpoints while avoiding the implication that all reasonable views are equally acceptable or true.Civil Disagreementoffers a concise yet comprehensive guide for students and scholars of philosophical or religious ethics, political or social philosophy, and political science, as well as general readers who are concerned about the polarization that often seems to paralyze national and international politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-033-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Conversations and Arguments
    (pp. 1-30)

    Is it possible for a group of human beings to live their lives together without sooner or later having serious disagreements and conflicts? This question raises an ancient debate. On the one hand, it seems that too many of us—maybe at some level all of us—are self-interested creatures who see ourselves in insecure competition with each other, a competition that applies to family members as well as to strangers. Conflict seems inevitable. On the other hand, maybe this tendency is caused by corrupting social influences that are not inherent in human nature. In other words, this sin, though...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Conflicts and Pluralisms
    (pp. 31-76)

    Pluralism is talked about so often and so loosely these days that it has a plurality of meanings. I will distinguish various types of pluralism, but the labels I give them are not universally used; indeed, sometimes the labels are used in contradictory ways. So we should attend primarily to the content of the descriptions rather than to the labels. At one level, pluralism refers to an empirical claim about sheer diversity of beliefs and outlooks: people have different and conflicting beliefs and practices, and increasingly, such diversity is found in the same society. At a second level, pluralism refers...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Toleration and Respect
    (pp. 77-106)

    Our story so far is that in a pluralistic society we can and should engage in open-minded conversations during which we listen as much as we talk, engage in sincere dialogues during which we try to see the issues the way others do, and engage in mutual inquiries during which we patiently and fair-mindedly examine each others’ arguments. However, we cannot expect that these well-intentioned efforts will bring consensus. Given the burdens of judgment, such discussion, rather than bringing agreement, will instead often clarify the depth of the differences and the sharpness of the conflicts. This is still a helpful...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Laws and Dissenters
    (pp. 107-142)

    Much of what has been discussed so far applies primarily to disagreements and conflicts between individuals in their personal interactions. I have offered a conceptual framework that I hope helps us think through appropriate ways to respond when we have differences on issues that are important to us. For example, we can recognize positions that we can respect, even if we disagree, and then we can raise the question of toleration or cooperation as separate issues. We can distinguish toleration from any number of related and sometimes contradictory concepts. In discussing intolerance, I have noted that we should distinguish direct...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Civil Disagreement: Conclusion
    (pp. 143-146)

    The preceding chapters have raised at least as many questions as they have provided answers. Indeed, the viewpoint underlying this book is that, in a society with interesting diversities, questions and disagreements are more likely than agreement on answers. The issue is whether we can share our disagreements in a civil way, one that recognizes the importance of personal integrity while also insisting on respecting our differences. The latter means not only being courteous toward and respecting the rights of the people we disagree with, but also being open-minded enough to consider whether and when we can respect their viewpoints...

    (pp. 147-156)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 157-170)