Is democratic toleration a rubber duck?

Res Publica 7 (3):315-336 (2001)
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.
Keywords contractualism  democracy  executive virtues  politics  public reason  toleration
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1012221130057
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,781
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Toleration Out of Respect?Sune Lægaard - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (4):520-536.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Why the Traditional Conception of Toleration Still Matters.John Horton - 2011 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (3):289-305.
On Toleration.Susan Mendus & David Edwards (eds.) - 1987 - Oxford University Press.
Introduction: Toleration Re-Examined.Derek Edyvane & Matt Matravers - 2011 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (3):281-288.
Toleration and Multiculturalism.Ryszard Legutko - 1999 - Critical Review 13 (1-2):115-127.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
27 ( #196,004 of 2,199,707 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #149,569 of 2,199,707 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature