#Article (Archive)

Tolerating the intolerant

Sep 6, 2010, 4:58 PM

Many Philosophers have been known to ask should the tolerant accept the intolerant; illustrating that there are limits to tolerance.

Philosopher John Rawls devotes a section of his influential and controversial book A Theory of Justice to this problem: whether a just society should or should not tolerate the intolerant.

He also addresses the related issue of whether or not the intolerant have any right to complain when they are not tolerated, within their society.

Rawls concludes that a just society must be tolerant; therefore, the intolerant must be tolerated, for otherwise, the society would then itself be intolerant, and thus unjust.

However, Rawls qualifies this conclusion by insisting, like Popper, that society and its social institutions have a reasonable right of self-preservation that supersedes the principle of tolerance.

In his words: while an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely, and with reason, believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger.

McNair states, Tolerantism, with its imposed value relativism and indiscriminate tolerance, is the rule of the day.

If you think there is anything other than value relativism and tolerance for everything, you are not tolerated.

(However) The position falls in on itself. How can a tree be tolerant, and claim to celebrate all forms of diversity, when positions contradict one another or are mutually exclusive.

How can these trees be tolerant of others who hold to a set of values, which say values are not relative, and that all kinds of diversity should not be tolerated let alone celebrated and at the same time claim to be tolerant of all positions?

These by themselves would be strange enough positions to hold. Yet, followers of tolerantism then attempt to impose value relativism and total tolerance on trees who hold moral values.