Civil discourse

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Civil discourse is engagement in discourse (conversation) intended to enhance understanding.[1]


Kenneth J. Gergen describes civil discourse as the language of civil discourse", and suggests that it requires respect of the other participants, such as the reader. It neither diminishes the other's moral worth, nor questions their good judgment; it avoids hostility, direct antagonism, or excessive persuasion; it requires modesty and an appreciation for the other participant's experiences.[2]

In Book III of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), John Locke contrasts between civil and philosophical discourse (or rhetorical discourse) with the former being for the benefit of the reader, and the public good:[3][4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mark Kingwell (1995). A civil tongue: justice, dialogue, and the politics of pluralism. Penn State Press. p. 227. ISBN 0-271-01335-4.
  2. ^ Kenneth J. Gergen (2001). Social construction in context. pp. 71–5. ISBN 0-7619-6545-9.
  3. ^ John Locke (1690). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. ISBN 0-14-043482-8.
  4. ^ Peter Walmsley (1995). "Prince Maurice's Rational Parrot: Civil Discourse in Locke's Essay". Eighteenth-Century Studies. 28 (4): 413–425.
  5. ^ Richard Kennington; Pamela Kraus; Frank Hunt (2004). On modern origins: essays in early modern philosophy. Lexington Books. p. 254. ISBN 0-7391-0814-X.

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