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"That's Offensive!" examines the common assertion that to criticize someone else's deeply held ideas or beliefs is inherently offensive. This idea, Stefan Collini argues, is unfortunately reinforced by two of the central requirements of an enlightened global politics: treating all people with equal respect and trying to avoid words or deeds that compound existing social disadvantages. In this powerfully argued book, Collini identifies a confused form of relativism and a well-meaning condescension at the heart of such attitudes. Instead, Collini suggests that one of the most profound ways to show our respect for other people is by treating them as capable of engaging in reasoned argument and thus as equals in intellect and humanity. Collini's ideas are timely and controversial, addressing deep issues about identity and human agency. His maxims - do not be so afraid of giving offense that you allow bad arguments to pass as though they were good ones, and do not allow your concern for the disadvantaged to exempt their beliefs from the kind of rational scrutiny to which your own must also be subjected - provide solid guiding principles for dialogue in our world today.
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About the Author

Stefan Collini is professor of intellectual history and English literature at the universities of Sussex and Cambridge. A frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, and the Nation, Collini is also the author of Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain and Common Reading: Critics, Historians, Publics, among other books.

Reviews

"One of Britain's finest essayists and writers.... His style is capacious, fair-minded and unbuttoned, alert to the quirks of personality and the conflicts of creative restlessness." - Times Higher Education Supplement, on Collini's Common Reading"

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