Tolerance as a virtue of justice

Philosophical Explorations 4 (3):193 – 206 (2001)
Abstract
This article argues that the civic virtue of tolerance has to be understood as a virtue of justice. Based on an analysis of the concept of toleration and its paradoxes, it shows that toleration is a 'normatively dependent concept' that needs to take recourse to a conception of justice in order to solve these paradoxes. At the center of this conception of justice lies a principle of reciprocal and general justification with the help of which a distinction between moral norms and ethical values is possible. While the former are strictly binding and define the realm of the tolerable, the latter are subject to reasonable disagreement that calls for toleration. Essentially, the virtue of tolerance is the capacity and willingness to accept the principle and criteria of justification of generally binding norms in an ethically pluralist society.This virtue is analyzed with respect to its normative and epistemological components. Finally, the idea of a 'tolerant character' is discussed.
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