Jonathan Wolff
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Social ethos and the dynamics of toleration
in The culture of toleration in diverse societies

This chapter introduces the idea of a social ethos as a way of pursuing the dynamic account of toleration. The dynamic analysis of toleration as a social virtue was initially motivated by the thought that toleration as an individual virtue typically requires some sort of 'overcoming'. The idea of toleration only seems appropriate when a conflict of values or beliefs goes so deep that groups may think that 'they cannot accept the existence of each other'. The chapter focuses on three responses: intolerance, grudging toleration or accommodating toleration. The contrast between the dynamic and static disappears, for a society will be tolerant in virtue of one aspect of its social ethos. The notion of 'live and let live' is so close to the idea of 'tolerate diversity' that the analysis becomes circular, presupposing the idea it is trying to explain.

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