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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Demonizing Our Opponents

Angel and Devil

Angel and Devil

Some evergreen reflections

It was 21 years ago when Philosophy Professor Christopher Kulp first published his thoughts on the deterioration of civility in American politics, but what he wrote then for the Center's publication Issues in Ethics might be ripped from today's headlines.  In Demonizing Our Opponents, Kulp argued:

I am not calling for public discourse to emulate the etiquette of an afternoon tea; the issues are too complex, the need for vigorous pursuit of truth too important, the claims of those marginalized by society too pressing to wish other than a tradition of robust public discussion.

What I am calling for is more responsible treatment of our opponents, even when our disagreements run deep. That means retaining a healthy appreciation of our own fallibility in judging others and the ends they endorse. That means according our disputants the respect and consideration with which we desire to be treated.

Jun 20, 2017

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