On Hubris, Civility, and Incivility

Hubris, excessive confidence in one’s own views and conclusions, is a dominant human trait. It comes in many guises and defines common patterns of mistakes. This Essay examines several potential meanings of the terms “civility” and “incivility” when hubris influences decisionmaking. Groups in society primarily use the labels “civility” and “incivility” to determine participation in decisionmaking processes. The labels effectively function as exclusion instruments, although they create the appearance of inclusiveness and openness to contrarian views. The Essay describes the role of hubris in establishing conformity in groups through the use of “civility” and “incivility” norms. The Essay argues that reliance on the labels “civility” and “incivility” could exacerbate group vulnerability to follow the hubris of individuals, and therefore to err.