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Political Toleration Explained

Abstract

Political toleration may initially seem unremarkable. For a long time, debates about toleration were debates about what the state should or should not tolerate. But given rise of the liberal democratic state, especially in political theory, political toleration has faced a number of conceptual challenges. The most prominent of these is “The Neutrality Challenge”: if the state is supposed to be neutral, then it cannot have the values on which to object, values which are a necessary feature of orthodox understandings of toleration. This chapter defuses this challenge, by showing how it misunderstands both neutrality and toleration. Both toleration and neutrality only make sense in relation to a specific range. Moreover, toleration has both a general and specific sense, and only the specific sense requires an objection and is necessarily a type of forbearance. States can be generally tolerant and then respect, be indifferent to, or tolerate in an objection sense, the specific differences they have power over. While this explains the general nature of political toleration, three problems remain when this is applied to specific acts of forbearance tolerance: understanding state objection, locating state power, and Glen Newey’s “symmetry thesis.” These are dealt with in the remainder of the chapter, and political toleration both in its general and more specific forbearance sense is explained.

Keywords

  • Political toleration
  • The Neutrality Challenge
  • Toleration
  • Tolerance
  • Respect
  • Indifference
  • Forbearance
  • Symmetry thesis
  • State neutrality
  • Intolerance
  • State power

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Balint, P. (2022). Political Toleration Explained. In: Sardoč, M. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Toleration. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42121-2_44

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