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Is the line between convention and good manners difficult to draw?

Asked by: cosecant
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  • Hum..... Hum...... Hum....

    Another way to make the same point would be to say that between law on the one side and freedom on the other there needs to be a middle territory where good manners (including the entire network of socially acceptable taboos and precedents) govern. These manners, which Burke called “inbred sentiments which are the faithful guardians, the active monitors of our duty” help to create an ecosystem of social expectations that are far more extensive than the scope of legislation can ever be.
    No one has to tell a group of Americans or Brits standing by a limited but available resource that they need to form a line (or “queue” as they say in England): they just do it because that is what our particular convention of good manners dictates. Imagine how hard it would be for a group of people to access an available but limited resource if years of civilizing influences had not instilled in us the idea of the queue.
    This middle area regulated by obedience to the unenforceable is just as crucial to society as law and freedom, since it prevents either excessive law or excessive freedom rushing in to become all-encompassing. If freedom succeeds in filling the void, the result is antinomianism and anarchy; if law succeeds in filling the void, the result is totalitarianism.


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