The Limits of Tolerance

Sunday, June 9, 2019

What is it

In order to reach compromise, people try to be tolerant of others with different beliefs. Despite its value, there are numerous factors that may hinder our exercise of tolerance. As the schisms between our beliefs grow larger, what happens when our moral and political ideals put us deeply at odds with our fellow citizens? Do we begrudgingly tolerate them by agreeing to live and let live? Do we shun them and their benighted views as beyond the pale? Or do we attempt to persuade them? Do we owe it to those we disagree with to be open to persuasion? The Philosophers are more than tolerant of their guest Reigina Rini from York University, author of "Abortion, Ultrasound, and Moral Persuasion."

Comments (3)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Thursday, May 23, 2019 -- 10:56 AM

I reply to your question

I reply to your question about power and its affect(s) on our ability to be tolerant. (the others, though important, are corollary to this one, IMHO). If Foucault was right, power is the engine which drives all of our other action/reaction motives. No one is immune to its attractions, unless we could count acolytes in a Trappist monastery---and, perhaps that notion is also faulty. As to whether tolerance is a paradigm, I am uncertain. We discuss all sorts of paradigms, speaking often of the new and the old among those. Tolerance might, at various points in history, have been considered a virtue, or at least a quality of 'humanness'...that it is older than most of our so-called new paradigms seems significant. It appears related to forgiveness, and, last I heard, forgiveness is, itself, more virtuous than its counterpart, vengeance. In any case, compromise and tolerance appear to be going out of fashion. We have a tendency to to revise and re-invent meanings for things that no longer fulfill our expectations---things which do not fit well with our situational ethics. I think this is a mistake. There are examples I could offer, but anyone who has thought about this topic can supply their own. (A friend who died about year ago always liked the militant quote concerning apology: Never apologize! It's a sign of weakness...I have always been told it is a sign of humanness.) Oops---guess that would count as an example?

If we get down to the bottom of these questions, tolerance (and even compromise) are merely ways of agreeing to disagree, without hauling out the 44 magnum or switchblade. They are algorithms to a peace process; a maintenance of detente. Don't be too hard on Ms. Rini. She is only another professional soul who has written a book she believes in. No different really than anyone else who seeks sense in their world---and, maybe, a couple of ounces of power.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 -- 3:06 PM

I am becoming intolerant of

I am becoming intolerant of American government. Mostly, the dysfunctional aspects of American government. I find it intolerable that a miscreant can be elected; subsequently prove himself incompetent, and be defended as protector of American values, when it is clear he is only it in for himself. All of this talk about not prosecuting a sitting president? Come on now. How much are we willing to tolerate when a sitting president thumbs his nose at anyone and everyone who challenges his pedestrian decisions about anything, of which he knows nothing? What is that? I m about the same age as this moron. I find abhorrent that no one,save his staunch supporters, can support his lunacy. Sorry, gang. This nonsense just annoys me.

bmalkawi's picture


Friday, June 28, 2019 -- 11:16 PM

Power is dangerous thing and

Power is dangerous thing and over time leads to intolerance. Compromise is a good thing and the law should encourage this. Bashar H. Malkawi


Regina Rini, Professor of Philosophy, York University


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