The social and epistemic benefits of polite conversations

Andrea Polonioli, Lisa Bortolotti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this chapter we explore the value of politeness in conversation. In Sect. 1, we introduce the apparent tension between the pragmatic and epistemic value of politeness. It would seem that politeness has epistemic drawbacks by compromising informative and sincere communication, but also has benefits by enhancing the quality of interpersonal relationships. In Sect. 2, we ask whether it is socially rational to have polite conversations, emphasizing the potential advantages of those conversations in which people sacrifice informativeness or sincerity for the sake of politeness. In Sect. 3, we argue that polite conversations also have epistemic benefits, and argue that politeness is defensible not only from a pragmatic perspective, but also from an epistemic one.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Philosophy of (Im)politeness
EditorsChaoqun Xie
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783030815929
ISBN (Print)9783030815912, 9783030815943
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in (Im)politeness Studies
ISSN (Print)2524-4000
ISSN (Electronic)2524-4019


  • political correctness
  • politeness
  • rationality
  • Polite conversation
  • Interpersonal relationship
  • Epistemic benefit
  • Informativeness
  • Sincerity


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