The idea of toleration as the appropriate response to difference has been central to liberal thought since Locke. Although the subject has been widely and variously explored, there has been reluctance to acknowledge the new meaning that current debates offer on toleration. This book starts from a clear recognition of the new terms of the debate, reflecting the capacity of seeing the other's viewpoint, and the limited extent to which toleration can be granted. Theoretical statements on toleration posit at the same time its necessity in democratic societies, and its impossibility as a coherent ideal. There are several possible objections to, and ways of developing the ideal of, reasonable tolerance as advocated by John Rawls and by some other supporters of political liberalism. The first part of the book explores some of them. In some real-life conflicts, it is unclear on whom the burden of reasonableness may fall. This part discusses the reasonableness of pluralism, and general concept and various more specific conceptions of toleration. The forces of progressive politics have been divided into two camps: redistribution and recognition. The second part of the book is an attempt to explore the internal coherence of such a transformation when applied to different contexts. It argues that openness to others in discourse, and their treatment as free and equal, is part of a kind of reflexive toleration that pertains to public communication in the deliberative context. Social ethos, religious discrimination and education are discussed in connection with tolerance.
Introduction: reasonable tolerance
Catriona McKinnon and Dario Castiglione
Theory and practice are often at odds. Yet there is something particularly
strange in the way in which the received theory and the presumed practice
of toleration in contemporary societies seem to go their separate ways.
Theoretical statements on toleration posit at the same time its necessity in
democratic societies, and its impossibility as a coherentideal.1 In her introduction to a comprehensive collection on tolerance and intolerance in
analysis. In line with the pace of increasing scientific specialisation,
he saw a need for a division of the university’s functions; but as an
institution it had instead amassed even more functions. There was
now considerable discrepancy between the idea of the university and
the tasks that it actually performed. The various sectors developed
their own goals, which were never merged into a common, coherentideal for the university.51
When Schelsky himself endeavoured to formulate a vision for
the contemporary university, he found inspiration in the