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Toleration

Edited by Andrew Jason Cohen (Georgia State University, Georgetown University)
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Summary There are four philosophical issues surrounding toleration: (1) What is it? (2) What does it require? (3) When is it required? and (4) Why is it of value?  The first two are conceptual questions and often--perhaps entirely, in contemporary work--conflated.  It is now assumed that whatever its complete definition, toleration requires non-interference.  That was not always the case.  The third question is of paramount importance in normative political work.  Disagreements about how to answer this question divide liberals and other moral and political thinkers into different camps.  The fourth question seems to many today to be unnecessary since everyone proclaims to think toleration important.  There are good arguments that defenses of toleration are still needed; historically, of course, they were extremely important. 
Key works Historically, the most important figures discussing toleration are, arguably: Saint Augustine (Letters), Baruch Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus), Pierre Bayle (A Philosophical Commentary), John Locke (Letters Concerning Toleration), and John Stuart Mill (On Liberty).  For a recent conceptual analysis of toleration, see Cohen 2004. For a collection with a good indication of various recent debates, see Williams & Waldron 2008.
Introductions Rainer Forst, Toleration
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Toleration
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  1. John E. Boodin (1908). Philosophical Tolerance. A Winter Revery. The Monist 18 (2):298-306.
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  2. S. I. M. Du Plessis (1975). Dialogue and Bigotry: Inaugural Lecture Delivered in the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, on 21 May 1975. University of Natal Press.
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  3. Thomas K. Hearn (1970). On Tolerance. Southern Journal of Philosophy 8 (2-3):223-231.
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  4. Ramin Jahanbegloo (2007). The Clash of Intolerances. Har-Anand Publications.
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  5. Jan-Werner Müller (2005). Toleration in Contexts. European Journal of Political Theory 4 (4):467-470.
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  6. P. Ricour (1996). To Think Tolerance. Diogenes 44 (176):25-26.
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The Concept of Toleration
  1. Voltaire . (2011). A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary. Oxford University Press Uk.
    'What can you say to a man who tells you he prefers obeying God rather than men, and that as a result he's certain he'll go to heaven if he cuts your throat?'Voltaire's Pocket Philosophical Dictionary, first published in 1764, is a major work of the European Enlightenment. It is also a highly entertaining book: this is no 'dictionary' in the ordinary sense, nor does it treat 'philosophy' in the modern meaning of the term. It consists of a sequence of (...)
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  2. Joseph Agassi, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom: Popper's Popular Critics.
    Two suggestions are at the back of the present talk. First, toleration is obligatory, not criticism. So do not try to make people critically-minded: do not force them in any way to try to offer or accept criticism, to learn to participate effectively in the game of critical discussion. If they refuse, then they are within their right. Also, they will easily ad vance excuses for their refusal; admittedly some of these are unreasonable, but not all. Instead of trying to (...)
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  3. A. Alshoala (1994). Islam and the Concept of Tolerance and Coexistence. Journal of Dharma 19 (4):350-357.
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  4. Maria Rosa Antognazza (2013). Leibniz’s Doctrine of Toleration: Philosophical, Theological and Pragmatic Reasons. In J. Parkin & T. Stanton (eds.), Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment. Oxford University Press 139-164.
    Leibniz is not commonly numbered amongst canonical writers on toleration. One obvious reason is that, unlike Locke, he wrote no treatise specifically devoted to that doctrine. Another is the enormous amount of energy which he famously devoted to ecclesiastical reunification. Promoting the reunification of Christian churches is an objective quite different from promoting the toleration of different religious faiths – so different, in fact, that they are sometimes even construed as mutually exclusive. Ecclesiastical reunification aims to find agreement at least (...)
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  5. K. C. Anyanwu (1985). Cultural Philosophy as a Philosophy of Integration and Tolerance. International Philosophical Quarterly 25 (3):271-287.
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  6. D. Archard (forthcoming). Michael Walzer, On Toleration. Radical Philosophy.
  7. Peter Balint (2014). Acts of Tolerance: A Political and Descriptive Account. European Journal of Political Theory 13 (3):264-281.
    Almost all philosophical understandings of tolerance as forbearance require that the reasons for objection and/or the reasons for withholding the power to negatively interfere must be of the morally right kind. In this paper, I instead put forward a descriptive account of an act of tolerance and argue that in the political context, at least, it has several important advantages over the standard more moralised accounts. These advantages include that it better addresses instances of intolerance and that it is able (...)
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  8. Peter Balint (2014). Toleration, by Andrew Jason Cohen. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):816-817.
  9. Barnes Barry (2001). Tolerance as a Primary Virtue. Res Publica 7 (3).
  10. P. Bendlova (1995). Reflections on Marcel Phenomenology and Dialectics of Tolerance and on His General Notion of Tolerance. Filosoficky Casopis 43 (5):759-764.
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  11. Alain Billecoq (1998). Spinoza et l’idée de tolérance. Philosophique 1:122-142.
    Alors que le plupart des commentateurs s'accorde pour affirmer que le Traité Théologico-Politique est un plaidoyer pour la tolérance, curieusement on ne trouvera pratiquement jamais le mot sous la plume de son auteur. Comme si Spinoza, qui le connaissait, l'écartait volontairement de son lexique philosophique. La présente étude s'efforce de mettre à jour les raisons de cette absence.
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  12. Bernard Bourgeois (2000). Philosophie Et Tolérance. Philosophica 65 (1):55-63.
  13. L. Bretherton (2004). Tolerance, Education and Hospitality: A Theological Proposal. Studies in Christian Ethics 17 (1):80-103.
    This article gives a critique of the notion of tolerance and the promotion of tolerance in education as a means of fostering respect for the ‘other’. In its place the theologically specified notion of hospitality is proposed. In the process of doing this, the article addresses three questions: is there an inherent contradiction between liberal philosophies of education and the promotion of tolerance? Is tolerance the best way to enable genuine respect for the ‘other’? And is tolerance something Christians should (...)
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  14. Walker Brian (1995). John Rawls, Mikhail Bakhtin, and the Praxis of Toleration. Political Theory 23 (1).
  15. Wendy Brown (2008). Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire. Princeton University Press.
    Tolerance is generally regarded as an unqualified achievement of the modern West. Emerging in early modern Europe to defuse violent religious conflict and reduce persecution, tolerance today is hailed as a key to decreasing conflict across a wide range of other dividing lines-- cultural, racial, ethnic, and sexual. But, as political theorist Wendy Brown argues in Regulating Aversion, tolerance also has dark and troubling undercurrents. Dislike, disapproval, and regulation lurk at the heart of tolerance. To tolerate is not to affirm (...)
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  16. Ian Carter (2013). Are Toleration and Respect Compatible? Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (3):195-208.
    Toleration and respect are often thought of as compatible, and indeed complementary, liberal democratic ideals. However, it has sometimes been said that toleration is disrespectful, because it necessarily involves a negative evaluation of the object of toleration. This article shows how toleration and respect are compatible as long as ‘ respect ’ is taken to mean recognition respect, as opposed to appraisal respect. But it also argues that recognition respect itself rules out certain kinds of evaluation of persons, and with (...)
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  17. Ian Carter & Maria Paola Ferretti (2013). Introduction. Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (3):191-194.
    In attempting to clarify both the concept of toleration and its role in contemporary society several authors have interpreted it as based on the notion of respect for persons. Persons are due respect as moral agents and as such should be allowed to make their own choices, even if the content of those choices meets with our disapproval. According to a classical understanding of toleration, one can be said to tolerate something if one disapproves of it (this is commonly called (...)
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  18. Dario Castiglione & Catriona McKinnon (2001). Introduction: Beyond Toleration? Res Publica 7 (3):223-230.
    Although tolerance is widely regarded as a virtue of both individuals and groups that modern democratic and multiculturalist societies cannot do without, there is still much disagreement among political thinkers as to what tolerance demands, or what can be done to create and sustain a culture of tolerance. The philosophical literature on toleration contains three main strands. (1) An agreement that a tolerant society is more than a modus vivendi; (2) discussion of the proper object(s) of toleration; (3) debate about (...)
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  19. Emanuela Ceva (2013). Toleration. Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy.
    The idea of toleration (or tolerance—the terms are mostly used interchangeably) plays a paramount role in liberal theorizing with regard to the normative characterization of the relations between the state and citizens and between majority and minority groups in society. Toleration occurs when an agent A refrains from interfering negatively with an agent B’s practice x or belief y despite A’s opposition to B’s x-ing or y-ing, although A thinks herself to be in the position of interfering. So, the notion (...)
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  20. Andrew Jason Cohen (2014). Toleration. Polity.
    In this engaging and comprehensive introduction to the topic of toleration, Andrew Jason Cohen seeks to answer fundamental questions, such as: What is toleration? What should be tolerated? Why is toleration important?
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  21. Andrew Jason Cohen (2004). What Toleration Is. Ethics 115 (1):68-95.
    Attempting to settle various debates from recent literature regarding its precise nature, I offer a detailed conceptual analysis of toleration. I begin by isolating toleration from other notions; this provides us some guidance by introducing the eight definitional conditions of toleration that I then explicate and defend. Together, these eight conditions indicate that toleration is an agent’s intentional and principled refraining from interfering with an opposed other (or their behavior, etc.) in situations of diversity, where the agent believes she has (...)
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  22. Stephen Cohen (2010). Conceiving of 'Toleration'. Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 10 (1/2).
  23. Maurice Cranston (1967). Toleration. In Paul Edwards (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York, Macmillan 8--143.
  24. Joris L. Van Damme (2004). Intolerantie, onverschilligheid en eerbied. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 66 (2):227 - 253.
    It seems that we can't speak about intolerance without first speaking about tolerance. This paper argues that we should think in the opposite direction. Before conceptualising tolerance we must first tackle the issue of intolerance and indifference. I propose to think of intolerance not as a privation of tolerance but as the expression of an original attitude. Two kinds of intolerance are distinguished. Next to the intolerance which is interwoven with the vulnerability of what Martha Nussbaum calls 'external goods', there (...)
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  25. Herman de Dijn (1994). Tolerance, Loyalty to Values and Respect for the Law. Ethical Perspectives 1 (1):27-32.
    The modern idea of the right to freedom of each human being can be briefly described as follows: it is the right to personal judgment in matters of what is true and good and to selfdetermination of one’s life and actions in view of this judgment. Today this right is considered as the most basic, or one of the most basic, unquestionable rights of the individual. At the same time, our present situation is characterized by an undeniable pluralism. We have (...)
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  26. Theo Wa de Wit (2010). Why Tolerance Cannot Be Our Principal Value. Bijdragen 71 (4):377-390.
    Whereas the concept of ‘tolerance’ was a marginal category from the end of the sixteenth century, it has become a political key concept today. Have we not all become strangers and foreigners? As such the concept of ‘strangeness’ has lost its relevance. In recent times we witness a new turn in the dialectics of tolerance. It becomes a political and polemical category allowing for a distinct segregation between ‘them’ and ‘we’. The concept explains ‘why we are civilized and they are (...)
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  27. Richard Dees (2002). Review of Anna Elisabetta Galeotti, Toleration As Recognition. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (11).
  28. Richard H. Dees (2004). Trust and Toleration. Routledge.
    This book outlines the social, conceptual, and psychological preconditions for toleration.By looking closely at the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in France and England and at contemporary controversies about the rights of homosexuals, Richard Dees demonstrates how trust between the opposing parties is needed first, but in just these cases, distrust is all-too-rational. Ultimately, that distrust can only be overcome if the parties undergo a fundamental shift of values - a conversion. Only then can they accept some (...)
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  29. James J. Delaney & Jeffrey Dueck (2003). A Rethinking of Contemporary Religious Tolerance. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 77:73-82.
    In relating philosophy to intercultural understanding, one of the key problems that arises is that of the relationship between tolerance and religious belief.This paper challenges the common understanding of tolerance in contemporary debates over religious diversity. It argues that tolerance is overused and over-applied in these debates, and has wrongfully come to refer to tactlessness, harshness of condemnation, and even exclusivity of belief. In seeking to clarify the concept and ensure its appropriate usage, it proposes that religious tolerance should only (...)
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  30. Monique Deveaux (1998). Toleration and Respect. Public Affairs Quarterly 12 (4):407-427.
  31. Albert Dondeyne (1957). L'idée de tolérance. Les Etudes Philosophiques 12 (3):398 - 401.
  32. Leonidas Donskis (2000). Tolerance as the Discovery of the Other. Acta Philosophica Fennica 65:41-50.
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  33. Oyuna Dorzhiguishaeva (2008). Tolerance as the Basic Category of Buddhist Ethics. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 23:13-19.
    The concept of tolerance is one of the basic ethical categories of Buddhism. Showing conscious tolerance, you control a situation and do not allow feelings, such as anger or arrogance to take top above reason. Besides, the tolerance to other people and different situation shows your wide scope and common emancipation. The tolerance is one of qualities inherent to bodhisattvas - sacred Buddhists. These qualities are called paramita, and paramita of tolerance - kshanti-paramita. Kshanti-paramita is triple: tolerance to other alive (...)
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  34. Enrique Dussel (2004). Deconstruction of the Concept of "Tolerance": From Intolerance to Solidarity. Constellations 11 (3):326-333.
  35. Derek Edyvane (2011). Tolerance and Pain. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (3):405-419.
    It is often thought that tolerance must be painful; the absence of pain is taken as an indication of indifference, an indication that the agent does not really disapprove of the object of her professed tolerance. This article challenges that view by arguing that the association of tolerance and pain depends ultimately upon the contentious assumption that inner conflict is a form of dysfunction. By unsettling that assumption, it is possible to unsettle the idea that one?s tolerance of others must (...)
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  36. Adam Etinson (2014). On Shareable Reasons: A Comment on Forst. Journal of Social Philosophy 45 (1):76-88.
  37. Lois M. Eveleth, Locke and the Problem of Toleration.
    More than ever before, being able to draw a distinction between the tolerable and the intolerable is necessary. Unfortunately the traditional understanding, as identified with the Enlightenment view first articulated by John Locke, presents merely formalistic criteria. Lacking substantive criteria, our contemporary understanding of toleration is inadequate to our needs.
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  38. Arnold Farr (2008). Diversity, Color-Blindness, and Other Hegemonic Discourses. Social Philosophy Today 24:91-105.
    In this paper I will examine the ways in which concepts and ideas that are used for emancipatory purposes eventually backfire and are used to perpetuate systems of domination. Part of my argument will be based on Herbert Marcuse’s essay “Repressive Tolerance.” In this essay, Marcuse examines the way in which the concept of tolerance, which has its origin in the struggle for liberation, is used by members of dominant social groups to advocate for tolerance of their oppressive views. Following (...)
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  39. Colin Farrelly, Neutrality, Toleration and Reasonable Agreement.
    It is widely agreed, claims John Horton, “that the core of the concept of toleration is the refusal, where one has the power to do so, to prohibit or seriously interfere with conduct one finds objectionable”.1 Liberals champion toleration as one of the main political virtues of a just society. The tolerant society is one which protects a diverse array of fundamental freedoms ranging from freedom of conscience and religion to freedom of expression and freedom of association. Secure in the (...)
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  40. Maria Paola Ferretti & Sune Lægaard (2013). A Multirelational Account of Toleration. Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (3):224-238.
    Toleration classically denotes a relation between two agents that is characterised by three components: objection, power, and acceptance overriding the objection. Against recent claims that classical toleration is not applicable in liberal democracies and that toleration must therefore either be understood purely attitudinally or purely politically, we argue that the components of classical toleration are crucial elements of contemporary cases of minority accommodation. The concept of toleration is applicable to, and is an important element of descriptions of such cases, provided (...)
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  41. Andrew Fiala (2005). Existentialism and Repressive Toleration. Studies in Practical Philosophy 5 (1):90-111.
  42. Andrew Fiala (2003). Stoic Tolerance. Res Publica 9 (2):149-168.
    This article considers the virtue of tolerance as it is found in Epictetus and MarcusAurelius. It defines the virtue of tolerance and links it to the Stoic idea of proper control of the passions in pursuit of both self-sufficiency and justice. It argues that Stoic tolerance is neither complete in difference nor a species of relativism. Finally, it discusses connections between the moral virtue of Stoic tolerance and the idea of political toleration found in modern liberalism.
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  43. George P. Fletcher (1993). The Commonality of Loyalty and Tolerance. Criminal Justice Ethics 12 (1):68-70.
  44. Rainer Forst (2012). Toleration in Conflict: Past and Present. Cambridge University Press.
    The concept of toleration plays a central role in pluralistic societies. It designates a stance which permits conflicts over beliefs and practices to persist while at the same time defusing them, because it is based on reasons for coexistence in conflict - that is, in continuing dissension. A critical examination of the concept makes clear, however, that its content and evaluation are profoundly contested matters and thus that the concept itself stands in conflict. For some, toleration was and is an (...)
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