Toleration out of respect?

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Under conditions of pluralism different cultures, interests or values can come into conflict, which raises the problem of how to secure peaceful co-existence. The idea of toleration historically emerged as an answer to this problem. Recently Rainer Forst has argued that toleration should not just be based on a modus vivendi designed to secure peaceful co-existence, but should be based on moral reasons. Forst therefore advances what he calls the ‘respect conception’ of toleration as an in itself morally desirable type of relationship, which is furthermore the only conception of toleration that avoids various so-called ‘paradoxes of toleration’. The paper first examines whether Forst’s respect conception can be applied descriptively to distinguish between actual patterns of behaviour and classify different acts of toleration. Then the focus is shifted to toleration out of respect as a normative prescription, which Forst presents as a requirement of justice. At both levels, it is argued that Forst’s respect conception is problematic since it presupposes that answers to very substantial normative questions, which are precisely what people tend to disagree on under conditions of pluralism, are already at hand. The respect conception therefore seems to be at best a theoretical idea belonging in ideal-theory, not a useful practical solution to actual conflicts under conditions of pluralism.
TidsskriftCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)520-536
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 2 sep. 2013


  • Rainer Forst
  • pluralisme
  • respekt
  • tolerance

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