Tough on Tolerance: The Vice of Virtue

Bart Engelen, Thomas Nys

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It is commonly accepted that tolerance is a virtue, a desirable character trait that should be fostered and cultivated, especially in liberal societies. In this chapter, we consider the plausibility of an alternative view, namely that tolerance is not necessarily a virtue. This view adopts a broad and normatively neutral definition of tolerance as simply meaning: deliberately refraining from intervening with conduct one finds objectionable. Moreover, if tolerance is to play an important role in the kind of liberal and pluralist democracies we are currently living in, then such a broad and neutral conception is much more suitable than a more narrow and normatively laden one. Tolerance can and should be something enforceable through law, which becomes difficult, if not impossible, when one understands it as a virtue.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Toleration
EditorsMitja Sardoč
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783030032272
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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