The tolerant society

what is required from the state for people to be free and autonomous rather than just the individuals

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Tolerance and the state

  • 1st political justivication of tolerance -french writer Jean Bodin -'6 boks of the Commonwealth' during intense religious conflict- Catholics &Huguenots (protestants).
  • sovereinty = power - 'absolute + perpectual power vested in a commonwealth'
  • Bodin wante state -non-religious maintain social order not promote religious conception of gd life
  • discard religious unity, recommend tolerance of religious diversity.
  • Edict of Nantes 1598 restored civil rights to Huguenots -preserving civil unity
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tolerance +the state (brief history)

numerous religious sectors, England 16th, 17thC +discrimination. e.g. Anglicans, Presbyterians, Quakers..

  • began to think tolerance
  • 1640 -arguments for toleration: Roger Williams, Jeremy Taylor, John Goodwin
  • Locke 1689 -Letter concerning Toleration.
  • cause of religious toleration promoted in context of large range extreme, mostly intolerant groups. -to keep own interest.
  • Declaration of Breda 1660 'uncharitableness of the time have produced several opinions in religion, we do declare a liberty to tender consciences'
  • means state won't prosecute for beliefs. freedom of thought +expression granted -not disturb peace
  • recommend tolerance others right to hold diff. views -composure +better understanding
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Arguments for toleration

Pragmatism -in religious diversity when 'men are engaged in parties +animosities against each other (Declaration of Breda 1660) safest to tolerate diversity, not side +persecute.

-preserve political unity +peace +..prosperity! -economically advantageous

after edict of Nantes, 1685 more intolerance + persecution, France lost valuabe Hugenots workers.

17th C Dutch Republic- most tolerant +prosperous

state's role increasingly secular. duties-keep order +security, allow individuals pursue own interests

-state may have to regulate some religious practices. not state's business regulate 'inner' beliefs. -think freely + trust choice in religion


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Locke 'letter concerning toleration'

aims 'distinguish exactly the business of civil gov. from that of religion'

locke sees state as:'a society of men constituted only for the procuring, preserving +advancing of their own civil interests.. life, liberty, Health and indolency of Body; and property'

gov. secure these rights not save souls.

  • some argue -reason reveals certain moral truths (incorporate tolerance, respect) to all rational agents regardless religion.
  • these truths, by reason can't be trumped by religious values (not objective truths) based on faith
  • if one accepts religion not certain -can tolerate other's beliefs provide they reciprocate.
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locke, tolerance and the state, other arguments

  • Locke- tolerating religious diversity agrees to rational nature + 'Gospel of Jesus Christ' -didn't instruct persecution to get others embrace Christianity.
  • New Test. favour argument -conversion
  • 'Tew Circle' -minor differences in all Protestants not foundational anyway so should be tolerated

can't force religion, esp. not by Civil Power nor intrust salvation to others. God hasn't entrusted care of souls to any man. incl. civil magistrate. Locke more faith in mankind- tolerance preferred to authority -can corrupt, mislead.

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Locke's limits on tolerance

  • unlawful practices in religious assemblies e.g. sacrificing virgins
  • atheism -can't trust
  • 'Paptists' suspicious of activities linked to foreign powers

irony -arguments for tolerance embraces by intolerant

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Toleration + political theory: liberalism

Locke is saying : Let us speak, let us print, let us preach.. it is no part of you business as civil ruler to interfere with these activities' -Cranston

Church can't make secular laws +gov. can't choose religion. jst protect life, liberty, prpty.. -religion can't ask anything back.

liberal -minimal state interference : except if religion threatens political order

liberal state must stick to rule of law +protect rights +liberties.

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J.S Mill On Liberty

19th C J.S Mill -freedom +diversity valuable -produce individual happiness (utilitarian) + social progress

  • in tolerant society, individual can 'grow+ develop'
  • toleration applies all areas of cultural diversity + diff. not just religion
  • minimalist state
  • self-regarding sphere, productive social learning, enhance individuality, originality. tolerance outcome -positive. man in progressive

but -liberal society so good?

  • utilitarian reasons -society value community -stable +order better?
  • freedom of conscience, experiments not moral progress -decline, decadence?
  • Locke -can't foce change individual's convictions, but can slow spreading of disliked ideas/ force against growth of beliefs threatening core social values.
  • elitist order -the best determine lifestyles for rest.
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'autonomy-based liberalism

autonomy-necessary condition of good life. toleration of only 'those diverse forms of life which themselves value autonomy'.

-autonomy -rejecting cultures viewed inferior +objected.

but if objected but accepted (morals, right to choose own values) + objection is moral too (autonomy necessary for morality) ...

-paradox of moral tolerance-it is morally right to tolerate what is morally wrong.

-avoid paradox -moral hierarchy

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neutrality- based liberalism

  • avoids attempt to determine necessary conditions for gd life.
  • moral reason for objection can't count as reason for rejections because not reciprocally accepted.
  • diverse group -rational debate

but -commitment to reason (rather than faith) not neutral itself. + sets limits of tolerance at views not violating own principle of rational debate (why better than devotion) e.g. not tolerating fanaticism -culture not tolerating who don't accept toleration =intolerant. Rawls 'overlapping consensus' agree broad political views, free to disagree morals, religion. = strength of democratic society +diversity

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