4.4.2 Socially-Acceptable Behaviour

People can only live together peaceably if they accept constraints – which are referred to here as exhibiting the ‘Socially-Acceptable Behaviour’ that is widely practised day by day in peaceful societies.  It applies to every personal interaction, including people with whom one feels no affinity.

It is hard to define precisely what is socially-acceptable – so it is not appropriate to apply the coercion of the law to enforce it.  The requirements are rarely articulated and are taken for granted by most well-meaning people, so it might be argued that they are self-evident and not worth enunciating – but socially-acceptable behaviour is so important to society that it needs to be consistently taught ( and people should put moral pressure upon anyone who doesn’t comply, as discussed in the next section (4.4.3).

Societies vary enormously, so it isn’t possible to have a universal definition of all aspects of socially-acceptable behaviour – but there are some general guidelines for reaching a formulation:

●  People have a lot in common, despite variations in their individual views (  They can avoid upsetting each other if they comply with the minimum form of the Golden Rule: don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you .

●  The behaviour that people are entitled to expect from each other is part of each society’s concept of human rights (

●  People need to show each other respect (  It means treating other people as equals, despite their differences.

●  Societies develop conventions of courtesy which, if complied with, make everyone feel better (

●  Last but not least, people should show integrity so that others can trust them (



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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/442.htm