This article contextualises current debates over human rights and transnational corporations. More specifically, we begin by first providing the background to John Ruggie's appointment as 'Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises'. Second, we provide a brief discussion of the rise of transnational corporations, and of their growing importance in terms of global governance. Third, we introduce the notion of human rights, and note some difficulties associated therewith. Fourth, we (...) refer to Ruggie's scholarly work on 'embedded liberalism', the 'global public domain' and 'social constructivism'. Following this, we refer to the other five papers contained in this "Journal of Business Ethics" special issue, 'Spheres of Influence/Spheres of Responsibility: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights', and consider some of the potential obstacles to Ruggie's recent suggestion that a 'new consensus' has formed, or is forming, around his 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework. We conclude by raising questions regarding the processes of consensus-building around, and the operationalisation of, Ruggie's 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework. (shrink)
I here advance a critical research agenda for the political perspective of corporate social responsibility (Political CSR). I argue that whilst the ‘Political’ CSR literature is notable for both its conceptual novelty and practical importance, its development has been hamstrung by four ambiguities, conflations and/or oversights. More positively, I argue that ‘Political’ CSR should be conceived as one potential form of globalization, and not as a consequence of ‘globalization’; that contemporary Western MNCs should be presumed to engage in CSR for (...) instrumental reasons; that ‘Political’ CSR should be associated with a corresponding ‘political’ model of corporate governance; and that both a ‘Rawlsian’ and ‘Habermasian’ perspective of Political CSR are different from ‘Political’ CSR. In concluding, I use these four critiques to identify a number of areas within which increasingly robust and sophisticated positive and normative theories of Political CSR are required. (shrink)
Whelan, Michael 'Travel light!' This is good advice for anyone going overseas. And it is not bad advice for each time you get out of bed and turn up for the new day. 'Travel light!' People who cling to what they should have let go years ago are like people who travel overseas with stuff they should have left at home - they are encumbered, burdened and weighed down. And that sense of weight is what they project into their (...) environment and those who have the misfortune to travel with them. (shrink)
There are increasing calls internationally for the development of regulation and policies related to the rapidly growing nanotechnologies sector. As part of the process of policy formation, it is widely accepted that deliberative community engagement processes should be included, enabling publics to have a say about nanotechnologies, expressing their hopes and fears, issues and concerns, and that these will be considered as part of the policy process. The Australian Federal and State governments have demonstrated a commitment to these ideals, undertaking (...) a number of public engagement activities in recent years. However, despite promises that these community engagement activities will enable policy makers to identify complex and contested community attitudes, and that these will be included as part of the policy making process, a closer look at Australia’s engagement activities reveals something quite different. Through an analysis of a number of Australia’s nano-engagement activities, this paper demonstrates the limits of public engagement related to the development of nanotechnology related policies and regulation in Australia. Our analysis reveals the extent to which industry interests have captured policy makers and regulators, dissenting voices have been excluded from engagement processes, and engagement processes have not connected with actual policy making activities. Reflecting on these limits, this paper concludes with recommendations for improving public engagement processes related to nanotechnologies in Australia. (shrink)
McBride, Glen I was brought up a good Anglican boy by two non-religious parents. My mother was probably an incipient feminist. I knew my father better but never heard him discuss anything religious. At 19, I arrived in England, a bookworm in the RAAF and discovered George Bernard Shaw in perhaps the most exciting mind-opening time of my life. He introduced me to the word 'agnostic' and made it clear that no one had anything worth saying for or against (...) god and its existence. He convinced me - as I'm sure he had many others. I immediately pronounced myself agnostic and in the almost seventy years since, have never found a reason to change that decision. (shrink)
Why do political philosophers shy away from politics? Glen Newey offers a challenging and original critique of liberalism, the dominant political philosophy of our time, tackling such key issues as state legitimacy, value-pluralism, neutrality, the nature of politics, public reason, and morality in politics. Analyzing major liberal theorists, Newey argues that liberalism bypasses politics because it ignores or misunderstands human motivation, and elevates academic systembuilding over political realities of conflict and power.
Minimalism is currently the received deflationary theory of truth. On minimalism, truth is a transparent concept and a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I situate minimalism within current deflationary debate about truth by contrasting it with its main alternative―the redundancy theory of truth (according to which truth is a transparent concept but not a property). I also outline three of the primary challenges facing minimalism, its formulation, explanatory adequacy and stability, and draw some lessons for the soundness (...) of its conception of truth. (shrink)
On rationalist infallibilism, a wide range of both (i) analytic and (ii) synthetic a priori propositions can be infallibly justified (or absolutely warranted), i.e., justified to a degree that entails their truth and precludes their falsity. Though rationalist infallibilism is indisputably running its course, adherence to at least one of the two species of infallible a priori justification refuses to disappear from mainstream epistemology. Among others, Putnam (1978) still professes the a priori infallibility of some category (i) propositions, while Burge (...) (1986, 1988, 1996) and Lewis (1996) have recently affirmed the a priori infallibility of some category (ii) propositions. In this paper, I take aim at rationalist infallibilism by calling into question the a priori infallibility of both analytic and synthetic propositions. The upshot will be twofold: first, rationalist infallibilism unsurprisingly emerges as a defective epistemological doctrine, and second, more importantly, the case for the a priori infallibility of one or both categories of propositions turns out to lack cogency. (shrink)
While much excitement has been generated surrounding evidence-based medicine, internal documents from the pharmaceutical industry suggest that the publicly available evidence base may not accurately represent the underlying data regarding its products. The industry and its associated medical communication firms state that publications in the medical literature primarily serve marketing interests. Suppression and spinning of negative data and ghostwriting have emerged as tools to help manage medical journal publications to best suit product sales, while disease mongering and market segmentation of (...) physicians are also used to efficiently maximize profits. We propose that while evidence-based medicine is a noble ideal, marketing-based medicine is the current reality. (shrink)
According to Field’s influential incompleteness objection, Tarski’s semantic theory of truth is unsatisfactory since the definition that forms its basis is incomplete in two distinct senses: (1) it is physicalistically inadequate, and for this reason, (2) it is conceptually deficient. In this paper, I defend the semantic theory of truth against the incompleteness objection by conceding (1) but rejecting (2). After arguing that Davidson and McDowell’s reply to the incompleteness objection fails to pass muster, I argue that, within the constraints (...) of a non-reductive physicalism and a holism concerning the concepts of truth, reference and meaning, conceding Field’s physicalistic inadequacy conclusion while rejecting his conceptual deficiency conclusion is a promising reply to the incompleteness objection. (shrink)
Linguistic competence, in general terms, involves the ability to learn, understand, and speak a language. The nativist view in the philosophy of linguistics holds that the principal foundation of linguistic competence is an innate faculty of linguistic cognition. In this paper, close scrutiny is given to nativism's fundamental commitments in the area of metaphysics. In the course of this exploration it is argued that any minimally defensible variety of nativism is, for better or worse, married to two theses: linguistic competence (...) is grounded in a faculty of linguistic cognition that is (i) embodied and (ii) whose operating rules are represented in the brains of human language users. (shrink)
The superassertability theory of truth, inspired by Crispin Wright (1992, 2003), holds that a statement is true if and only if it is superassertable in the following sense: it possesses warrant that cannot be defeated by any improvement of our information. While initially promising, the superassertability theory of truth is vulnerable to a persistent difficulty highlighted by James Van Cleve (1996) and Terrence Horgan (1995) but not properly fleshed out: it is formally illegitimate in a similar sense that unsophisticated epistemic (...) theories of truth are widely acknowledged to be. Sustained analysis reveals that the unrestricted formal legitimacy argument is firmly grounded in first person conceivability evidence. (shrink)
The weak deflationist about truth is committed to two theses: one conceptual, the other ontological. On the conceptual thesis (what might be called a ‘triviality thesis’), the content of the truth predicate is exhausted by its involvement in some version of the ‘truth-schema’. On the ontological thesis, truth is a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I focus on weak deflationism’s ontological thesis, arguing that it generates an instability in its view of truth: the view threatens to collapse (...) into either that of strong deflationism (i.e., truth is not a property) or that of some form of inflationism (i.e., truth is a substantial property). The instability objection to weak deflationism is sketched by way of a truth-property ascription dilemma, the two horns of which its proponent is at pains to circumvent. (shrink)
Thomas Hurka, Simon Keller, and Julia Annas have recently argued that virtue ethics is self-effacing. I contend that these arguments are rooted in a mistaken understanding of the role that ideal agency and agent flourishing (should) play in virtue ethics. I then show how a virtue ethical theory can avoid the charge of self-effacement and why it is important that it do so.
This essay details wolves’ sense of their surround in terms of how wolves’ perceptual acuities, motor abilities, daily habits, overriding concerns, network of intimate social bonds and relationship to prey gives them a unique sense of space, time, belonging with other wolves, memorial sense, imaginative capacities, dominant emotions (of affection, play, loyalty, hunger, etc.), communicative avenues, partnership with other creatures, and key role in ecological thriving. Wolves are seen to live within a vast sense of aroundness and closeness to aspects (...) of their surround (compared to humans), a highly charged intimacy and cooperation with other wolves, and a caring and non-aggressive attitude that goes beyond the pack, despite their loyalty and defense of territory. The cultural myths and history that absurdly demonize the wolf are explored in their self-righteous attempts to exterminate wolves, which I call “speciocide” and probe for projections of human viciousness. The supposed rapaciousness of wolves is re-examined by expanding Barry Lopez’s sense of the silent dialogue of death with other creatures to be reconsidered as a kind of respect, assertion of vitality, recognition or mortality and cooperation. (shrink)
On rationalist infallibilism, a wide range of both (i) analytic and (ii) synthetic a priori propositions can be infallibly justified, i.e., justified in a way that is truth-entailing. In this paper, I examine the second thesis of rationalist infallibilism, what might be called ‘synthetic a priori infallibilism’. Exploring the seemingly only potentially plausible species of synthetic a priori infallibility, I reject the infallible justification of so-called self-justifying propositions.
It could be argued that tort law is failing, and arguably an example of this failure is the recent public liability and insurance (‘PL&I’) crisis. A number of solutions have been proposed, but ultimately the chosen solution should address whatever we take to be the cause of this failure. On one account, the PL&I crisis is a result of an unwarranted expansion of the scope of tort law. Proponents of this position sometimes argue that the duty of care owed by (...) defendants to plaintiffs has expanded beyond reasonable levels, such that parties who were not really responsible for another’s misfortune are successfully sued, while those who really were to blame get away without taking any responsibility. However people should take responsibility for their actions, and the only likely consequence of allowing them to shirk it is that they and others will be less likely to exercise due care in the future, since the deterrents of liability and of no compensation for accidentally self-imposed losses will not be there. Others also argue that this expansion is not warranted because it is inappropriately fueled by ‘deep pocket’ considerations rather than by considerations of fault. They argue that the presence of liability insurance sways the judiciary to award damages against defendants since they know that insurers, and not the defendant personally, will pay for it in the end anyway. But although it may seem that no real person has to bear these burdens when they are imposed onto insurers, in reality all of society bears them collectively when insurers are forced to hike their premiums to cover these increasing damages payments. In any case, it seems unfair to force insurers to cover these costs simply because they can afford to do so. If such an expansion is indeed the cause of the PL&I crisis, then a contraction of the scope of tort liability, and a pious return to the fault principle, might remedy the situation. However it could also be argued that inadequate deterrence is the cause of this crisis. On this account the problem would lie not with the tort system’s continued unwarranted expansion, but in the fact that defendants really have been too careless. If prospective injurers were appropriately deterred from engaging in unnecessarily risky activities, then fewer accidents would ever occur in the first place, and this would reduce the need for litigation at its very source. If we take this to be the cause of tort law’s failure then our solution should aim to improve deterrence. Glen Robinson has argued that improved deterrence could be achieved if plaintiffs were allowed to sue defendants for wrongful exposure to ongoing risks of future harm, even in the absence of currently materialized losses. He argues that at least in toxic injury type cases the tortious creation of risk [should be seen as] an appropriate basis of liability, with damages being assessed according to the value of the risk, as an alternative to forcing risk victims to abide the outcome of the event and seek damages only if and when harm materializes. In a sense, Robinson wishes to treat newly-acquired wrongful risks as de-facto wrongful losses, and these are what would be compensated in liability for risk creation (‘LFRC’) cases. Robinson argues that if the extent of damages were fixed to the extent of risk exposure, all detected unreasonable risk creators would be forced to bear the costs of their activities, rather than only those who could be found responsible for another’s injuries ‘on the balance of probabilities’. The incidence of accidents should decrease as a result of improved deterrence, reduce the ‘suing fest’, and so resolve the PL&I crisis. So whilst the first solution involves contracting the scope of tort liability, Robinson’s solution involves an expansion of its scope. However Robinson acknowledges that LFRC seems prima facie incompatible with current tort principles which in the least require the presence of plaintiff losses, defendant fault, and causation to be established before making defendants liable for plaintiffs’ compensation. Since losses would be absent in LFRC cases by definition, the first evidentiary requirement would always be frustrated, and in its absence proof of defendant fault and causation would also seem scant. If such an expansion of tort liability were not supported by current tort principles then it would be no better than proposals to switch accident law across to no-fault, since both solutions would require comprehensive legal reform. However Robinson argues that the above three evidentiary requirements could be met in LFRC cases to the same extent that they are met in other currently accepted cases, and hence that his solution would therefore be preferable to no-fault solutions as it would only require incremental but not comprehensive legal reform. Although I believe that actual losses should be present before allowing plaintiffs to seek compensation, I will not present a positive argument for this conclusion. My aim in this paper is not to debate the relative merits of Robinson’s solution as compared to no-fault solutions, nor to determine which account of the cause of the PL&I crisis is closer to the truth, but rather to find out whether Robinson’s solution would indeed require less radical legal reform than, for example, proposed no-fault solutions. I will argue that Robinson fails to show that current tort principles would support his proposed solution, and hence that his solution is at best on an even footing with no-fault solutions since both would require comprehensive legal reform. (shrink)
If asked to generate a list of virtues, most people would not include meekness. So it is surprising that Hume not only deems it a virtue, but one whose 'tendency to the good of society no one can doubt of.' After explaining what Hume and his contemporaries meant by "meekness", the paper proceeds to argue that meekness is a virtue we, too, should endorse.
Glen Hartz argues, that neuroscience reveals that persons moved or frightened by fictional characters believe that they are real, so such behaviour is not irrational. But these beliefs, if they exist, are not rational and, in any case inconsistent with our conscious rational beliefs that fictional characters are not real. So his argument fails to establish that we are not irrational or incoherent when moved or frightened by such characters. It powerfully reinforces the contrary view.
I argue that individuals may be as problematic political agents as groups are. In doing so, I draw on theory from economics, philosophy, and computer science and evidence from psychology, neuroscience, and biology. If successful, this argument undermines agency-based justifications for embracing strong notions of individual rights while rejecting the possibility of similar rights for groups. For concreteness, I critique these mistaken views by rebutting arguments given by Chandran Kukathas in his article `Are There Any Cultural Rights?' that groups lack (...) the temporal coherence, political independence, and indivisibility of individuals. I also show how formal critiques of group agency from social science (in particular, Arrow's Impossibility Theorem) can be applied as reasonably to individuals as groups. Because these symmetries between groups and individuals undermine common implicit assumptions in political philosophy, I argue that they may have broader implications for liberal political theory, as they emphasize the importance of intrapersonal justice. Key Words: moral individualism • group rights • social choice theory • liberalism • communitarianism • behavioral economics. (shrink)
The ideology of consumption and the imperative of consumer choice have washed across the globe. In today's developed economies there is an ever-increasing amount of buying, amidst an ever-increasing amount of purchase options, amidst an ever-increasing amount of stress, amidst an ever-decreasing amount of discretionary time. This brief essay reviews research suggesting, for example, that hyperchoice confuses people and increases regret, that hyperchoice is initially attractive but ultimately unsatisfying, and that hyperchoice is psychologically draining. Future research is then discussed, including (...) how and why hyperchoice may have other toxic effects on people, including the degrading of moral emotions and behavior. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of apologies have focused on apologizing for wrong actions. Such a focus overlooks an important dimension of moral failures, namely, failures of character. However, when one attempts to revise the standard account of apology to make room for failures of character, two objections emerge. The first is rooted in the psychology of shame. The second stems from the purported social function of apologies. This paper responds to these objections and, in so doing, sheds further light both on why (...) we apologize (when we are in the wrong) and on why we accept apologies (when others are). (shrink)
Ambition is a curiously neglected topic in ethics. It isn’t that philosophers have not discussed it. Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Harrington, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, Santayana and a number of others have discussed ambition. But it has seldom received more than a few paragraphs worth of analysis, in spite of the fact that ambition plays a central role in Western politics (one cannot be elected without it), and in spite of the fact that Machiavelli, Harrington, Locke and Rousseau each considered (...) it to be among the greatest threats to political security. The aim of this paper is to provide a long overdue analysis of ambition. The first part of the paper explores what ambition is. The second seeks to answer the question, “Is ambition a virtue or a vice?”. (shrink)
Discover the truth about sex in the city (and the country). Mapping Desire explores the places and spaces of sexuality from body to community, from the "cottage" to the Barrio, from Boston to Jakarta, from home to cyberspace. Mapping Desire is the first book to explore sexualities from a geographical perspective. The nature of place and notions of space are of increasing centrality to cultural and social theory. Mapping Desires presents the rich and diverse world of contemporary sexuality, exploring how (...) the heterosexed body has been appropriated and resisted on the individual, community and city scales. Editors David Bell and Gill Valentine have brought together contributors with a wealth of approaches to ways in which the spaces of sex and the sexes of space are being mapped out across contemporary culture. Among the many sexual geographies covered are: Lesbians at home and on the streets; gay men on fantasy islands; bisexual identities; The heterosexualization of the workplace; bachelor farmers and spinsters; surveillance and sexuality; prostitution; queer politics; sexual citizenship, and the transformation of intimacy. The book is divided into four sections: cartographies/identities; sexualized spaces: global/local; sexualized spaces: local/global; sites of resistance. Each section is separately introduced. Beyond the bibliography, an annotated guide to further reading is also provided to help the reader map their own way through the literature. Mapping Desire will be a valuable and accessible travelogue of information for anyone interested in social, cultural and political geography, lesbian and gay studies, cultural studies, or simply those who want to find out more about the sexual landscape of contemporary society. Contents: Part I: Cartographies/Identities; Resolving Riddles: The Sexed Body, Julia Cream ; Locating Bisexual Identities: Discourses of Bisexuality and Contemporary Feminist Theory, Clare Hemmings; Of Moffies, Kaffiers and Perverts: Male Homosexuality and the Discourse of Moral Order in the Apartheid State, Glen Elder; Femme on the Streets, Butch in the Sheets (a Play on Whores), Alison Murray; Body Work: The Performance of Gendered and (Hetero)Sexualized Identities in City Workplaces, Linda McDowell; Part II: Sexualized Spaces: Global/Local; Whenever I Lay My Girlfriend That's My Home: The Performance and Surveillance of Lesbian Identities in Domestic Environments, Lynda Johnston and Gill Valentine; The Lesbian Flaneur, Sally Munt; Fantasy Islands: Popular Topographies of Marooned Masculinities, Gregory Woods; Sexuality and Urban Space: A Framework for Analysis, Lawrence Knopp; Part III: Sexualized Spaces: Local/Global; "And She Told Two Friends...": Lesbians Creating Urban Social Space, Tamar Rothenberg; Trading Places: Consumption, Sexuality and the Production of Queer Space, Jon Binnie; Bachelor Farmers and Spinsters: Gay and Lesbian Identities and Communities in Rural North Dakota, Jerry Lee Kramer; (Re)Constructing a Spanish Redlight District: Prostitution, Space and Power, Angie Hart; Part IV: Sites of Resistance; "Surveilliant Gays": HIV, Space and the Construction of Identities, David Woodhead; Sex, Scale and the "New Urban Politics": HIV-Prevention Strategies from Yaletown, Vancouver, Michael Brown; "Boom, Bye, Bye": Jamaican Ragga and Gay Resistance, Tracey Skelton; The Diversity of Queer Politics and the Redefinition of Sexual Identity and Community in Urban Space, Tim Davis; Perverse Dynamics, Sexual Citizenship and the Transformation of Intimacy, David Bell; Guide to Further Reading; Bibliography. (shrink)
This paper examines and criticizes the defence of toleration due to John Rawls in Political Liberalism, and similar strategies mobilized in defence of toleration. It argues that the notion of the burdens of judgement, used by Rawls to defend his doctrine of reasonable pluralism, faces incoherence: schematically, either disagreement succumbs to reason, or vice versa. On similar grounds, reasonable disagreement defences of neutrality fail because of a double-mindedness about the relation between private judgements and public reason. This problem arises, it (...) is argued, from an attempt to make private judgements determinative in the formation of political and legal outcomes, even while subjecting the latter?s justification to norms of public reason. Deference to private judgements in political justification tends to countenance sedition, and this applies also to modern liberal attempts such as Rawls?s to ground toleration in private judgements. (shrink)
Are torture and torturers unforgivable? The article examines this question in the light of a Humean account of forgiveness. Initially, the Humean account appears to suggest that torturers are unforgivable. However, in the end, I argue it provides us with good reasons to think that even torturers may be forgiven.
The dilemma of divine forgiveness suggests it is unreasonable to be comforted by the thought that God forgives acts that injure human victims. A plausible response to the dilemma suggests that the comfort derives from the belief that God’s forgiveness releases the wrongdoer from punishment for her misdeed. This response is shown to be flawed. A more adequate response is then developed out of the connection between forgiveness and reconciliation.
Altruistic behavior and motivation has traditionally been regarded as a defense mechanism defined by the vicissitudes of instinctual gratification. In this article, we suggest that there exists a substantial body of evidence from the fields of ethology, infant research, and experimental psychology to support the existence of an independently motivated altruism that is nondefensive in nature. We attempt to show how the view of altruism as a universal motivational system stems from the recent developments in evolutionary theory and contributes to (...) our understanding of intrapsychic factors influencing human behavior in general and the process of psychotherapy in particular. It is not our goal to prove the existence of "pure altruism" that can never be derived from selfish motives. Rather, our thesis is that self-oriented and altruistic motivations are equal and essential partners in human evolution and development. It is the optimal balance of these two forces that is necessary for evolutionary advancement and for psychological health. (shrink)
This article explores Charles Taylor's Hegelian and Aristotelian ethic of reconciliation. It comments on the critical work provided by Joel Anderson, Jürgen Habermas, Chandras Kukathas, Morag Patrick, Philip Pettit and Mark Redhead. It is argued that these critical perspectives on Taylor's work have not fully developed the spirit of liberalism which runs like a red thread through his ethic of reconciliation. For Taylor, reconciliation embraces others who are different from us and aims to create a virtuous culture. Taylor's critics overlook (...) the liberal implications of his ethic and also do not recognize his commitment to the plural diversity in modern societies. Taylor's communitarianism (post-liberalism in his mind) aims to create trust, openness and democratic accountability. The article concludes that democratic practice must also engage with others who are different from us, fostering a fusion of horizons that creates reconciliation and understanding. Key Words: communitarianism ecology interpretation liberalism post-liberalism public sphere reconciliation. (shrink)
Lucretius claimed we should be as indifferent to the time of our death as we are toward the time of our birth. Thomas Nagel, Frederik Kaufman, and Christopher Belshaw have each rejected Lucretius' claim. Their arguments depend upon an appeal to a psychological notion of the self. This appeal, I contend, is problematic. I present four reasons for thinking that their response to Lucretius is inadequate.
The paper explores the possibility of collectives forgiving and being forgiven. The first half of the paper articulates and amends Hannah Arendt’s account of forgiveness of and by individuals. The second half raises several objections to the possibility of extending this account to forgiveness of and by collectives. In reply, I argue that collectives can have emotions, be guilty, and meet other necessary conditions for forgiving or being forgiven. However, I explain why, even though collective forgiveness is possible, it may, (...) nonetheless, prove dissatisfying. (shrink)
What are we doing when we say "I forgive you"? This paper employs Austin's notion of illocutionary force to analyze three different kinds of acts in which we might engage when saying "I forgive you." We might use it (1) to disclose an emotional condition, (2) to declare a debt cancelled, or (3) to commit ourselves to a future course of action. I suggest that the forgiving utterances we seek possess qualities of both the first and the third types of (...) speech-acts. (shrink)
Democratic politicians face pressures unknown to the prerogative rulers of the early modern period when toleration was first formulated as a political ideal. These pressures are less often expressed as demands by groups or individuals for the permission of practices they dislike than for their restraint or outright prohibition; tolerant dispositions are less politically clamorous. The executive structure of toleration as a virtue, together with the ‘fact of reasonable pluralism’, make conflicts over toleration peculiarly intractable. Political conflicts are apt to (...) take the form of mutual allegations ofintolerance; indeed, the problem of ‘tolerating the intolerant’, far from being a marginal case, is central to the theory and practice of toleration. Toleration thus exemplifies a category mistake committed in much contemporary political theory, particularly in its contractualist versions: the threshold of the political lies precisely where rational agreement proves impossible. The main prospects for democratic toleration are thus pre-emptive. The main way in which this can happen is by cultivating executive dispositions: in other words, encouraging people to detach themselves from strong evaluative commitments, so that toleration does not become politically contentious to start with. But this involves losses as well as gains. The gains in civil harmony and peace are obvious. The cost for tolerant political actors is alienation from what they have good reason to value. (shrink)
The paper opens with an account of moral ambition which, it argues, is both a coherent ideal and an admirable trait. It closes with a discussion of some of the ways in which this trait might differ from traditional virtues such as temperance, courage, or benevolence.