Prof explores civility in politics, education

October 15, 2012  |  
Deborah Mower

Deborah Mower

Deborah Mower, associate professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, is the co-editor of a new book titled Civility in Politics and Education, a timely tome as the presidential election nears. The book discusses civility as a concept, the role it plays in politics and education, and its political and educational application in U.S. contexts and globally. Mower shares some observations about her book:

  • My hope for anyone reading this book would be to consider how we evaluate arguments and evidence, and part of that is thinking about the goal of discourse.
  • I think most educators do take civility—even if they haven’t thought about it explicitly—as a goal or a method that they use in their courses, simply because you can’t teach students much of anything if all you end up with is a bitter debate between two opposing positions on some theoretical concept, political position, or moral question.
  • One of the motivating reasons for this book is that as educators, one of the primary things that we do is to develop students into full-blown professionals who are going off and making their way in the world. In order to engage with clients and to interact in society, they have to be able to evaluate arguments, look at evidence, and engage in discussions to reach some sort of positive, purposeful resolution to claims. If all we have in society and in our professional lives are complete disagreement and acrimony, we never get anywhere.
  • A second motivation for this book is to have better political debates, and hopefully come to some resolution to decide questions of public policy. What we see far too much in present politics is simply one-upmanship and trying to trump someone else’s position without (a) understanding them, (b) trying to give their position fair consideration, (c) considering evidence, and (d) by manipulating the evidence and trying to force through positions; none of which are the purpose of what we do when we’re actually trying to examine ideas.
  • The overall goal is to try to get people to engage in discussions about ideas, rather than politicking as we presently do, and so the book is of interest to students, educators, and politicians.

Mower was recently featured on WYSU’s “Lincoln Avenue.” Listen at WYSU online.

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