Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy

By Stephen L. Carter | Go to book overview

II
Some Technologies of Incivility

YET SCIENCE is no enemy of civility. In the era of the singular American truth, a faith in science was virtually a part of the national creed. Americans believed in both the inevitability and the morality of progress.1 The future would be better than the pre- sent, and scientific advance would lead the way. The market for science fiction exploded. Everybody understood that science would change the world, and everybody was excited about it. Visitors to the New York World's Fair--and to Disneyland too-- wanted to see what tomorrow would look like. When Vannevar Bush, an adviser to President Eisenhower, published a popular book called Science. The Endless Frontier in 1958, he was following, not creating, a trend.

Even today, with our national faith in technology shaken by such phenomena as the Dalkon shield scandal, the Three Mile Island near-disaster, and the stubborn persistence of AIDS, most Americans continue to welcome technological change. Some find the Internet scary, others worry about which food additive will next be linked to cancer, but, for the most part, we seem to believe that when things break, American know-how can fix them. We count on science to cure diseases, design safer cars, warn us of hurricanes, and invent faster computers. We still count on science, in fact, to improve our lives in ways of all sorts. What we do not count on science to do is to change who, fundamentally, we are. And yet that change is occurring, and the student of civility should be worried.

-186-

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Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • I - The Collapse of the Three-Legged Stool 1
  • I - Barbarians Running Late 3
  • 2 - Do Manners Matter? 20
  • 3 - The Death of the Golden Age 38
  • 4 - Welcoming the Stranger 55
  • 5 - The Embarrassment of Free Will 76
  • 6 - Sacrifice and Neighbor-Love 96
  • II - Incivility's Instruments 113
  • 7 - The Demon on the Other Side 115
  • 8 - The Varieties of (not) Listening 132
  • 9 - Fighting Words 148
  • 10 167
  • II - Some Technologies of Incivility 186
  • 12 - Law, Tolerance, and Civility's Illusions 207
  • III - Civilizing the Twenty-First Century 227
  • 13 - Where Civility Begins 229
  • 14 - Uncivil Religion 249
  • 15 - Civility and the Challenge of Christendom 265
  • 16 - The Etiquette of Democracy 277
  • 17 - Coda: the Civility of Silence 287
  • Notes 293
  • Index 333
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