On Manners: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

On Manners

1st Edition

By Karen Stohr


190 pages

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Paperback: 9780415875387
pub: 2011-11-11
Hardback: 9780415875370
pub: 2011-11-11
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203859803
pub: 2012-05-22
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Many otherwise enlightened people often dismiss etiquette as a trivial subject or—worse yet—as nothing but a disguise for moral hypocrisy or unjust social hierarchies. Such sentiments either mistakenly assume that most manners merely frame the “real issues” of any interpersonal exchange or are the ugly vestiges of outdated, unfair social arrangements. But in On Manners, Karen Stohr turns the tables on these easy prejudices, demonstrating that the scope of manners is much broader than most people realize and that manners lead directly to the roots of enduring ethical questions. Stohr suggests that though manners are mostly conventional, they are nevertheless authoritative insofar as they are a primary means by which we express moral attitudes and commitments and carry out important moral goals.

Drawing primarily on Aristotle and Kant and with references to a wide range of cultural examples—from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm—the author ultimately concludes that good manners are essential to moral character.


"Intelligible and interesting to the lay reader; yet scholarly enough for the professional ethicist, On Manners is Karen Stohr’s elegant calling card. I trust that the other public intellectuals will return the visit by reading the book."Howard Curzer, Texas Tech University

"Drawing on Austen, Kant, and Seinfeld, blending powerful and precise thought with graceful and inviting prose, Karen Stohr has written a book that is not only wise, but warmly hospitable. When you read it, you’ll learn just how very important that is."James Nelson, Michigan State University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Link Between Morality and Manners 3. Etiquette Expertise 4. Self-Presentation 5. Polite Lies 6. Giving and Receiving 7. Neighbors 8. Hospitality and Taste 9. Conclusion Bibliography

About the Author

Karen Stohr is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where she is also a Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.

About the Series

Thinking in Action

'Three of the first batch deserve high praise: On Immigration and Refugees, by the great logician (and campaigner for racial equality) Michael Dummett; On Belief, by that master of postmodern paradox, Slavoj Zizek; and On the Internet by Hubert L Dreyfus.' - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

This is clearly an important series. I look forward to reading future volumes.' - Frank Kermode, author of Shakespeare's Language

Both rigorous and accessible.' - Humanist News

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"Routledge's Thinking in Action series is the theory junkie's answer to the eminently pocketable Penguin 60s series.' - Mute Magazine

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Thinking in Action
is a major series that takes philosophy to its public. Each book in the series is written by a major international philosopher or thinker, engages with an important contemporary topic, and is clearly and accessibly written. The series informs and sharpens debate on topics as wide ranging as the internet, religion, the problem of immigration and refugees and the way we think about science. Punchy, short, and stimulating, Thinking in Action is an indispensable series of books for anyone who wants to think seriously about major issues confronting us today.

Edited by Simon Critchley, New School University, USA and Richard Kearney, Boston College, USA

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy