Chapter

The Trouble with Tolerance*

Angela M. Smith

in Reasons and Recognition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753673
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918829 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753673.003.0008
The Trouble with Tolerance*

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In his paper “The Difficulty of Tolerance,” T. M. Scanlon argues that tolerance is sometimes a morally ideal attitude to hold toward other citizens in society with whom one disagrees. My aim in this paper is to critically evaluate this claim, by looking more carefully at the nature of tolerant attitudes and the conditions under which they are, and are not, appropriately directed toward other citizens. I argue that there is a moral tension present even in allegedly “pure” cases of tolerance that Scanlon’s account overlooks. I go on to argue that what Scanlon has in fact given us is a compelling defense of tolerance as a virtue of character, rather than an attitude, and that the virtue of tolerance only rarely calls upon us to take up attitudes of tolerance toward our fellow citizens. I conclude by reflecting on one situation in which a person with the virtue of tolerance may legitimately adopt an attitude of tolerance toward a fellow citizen.

Keywords: Scanlon; Tolerance; Civic Virtue; Respect

Chapter.  12078 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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