At The Conversation, Robert B. Talisse offers a three-part test for civility:
- First, take one of your strongest political views, and then try to figure out what your smartest partisan opponent might say about it.
- Second, identify a political idea that is key to your opponent and then develop a lucid argument that supports it.
- Third, identify a major policy favored by the other side that you could regard as permissible for government – despite your opposition.
If you struggle to perform those tasks, that means one has a feeble grasp on the range of responsible political opinion. When we cannot even imagine a cogent political perspective that stands in opposition to our own, we can’t engage civilly with our fellow citizens.