Tolerance and Prejudice

Philosophy AS Tolerance.

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Prejudiced Tolerant Individual

Objection - view that we believe that x (e.g. homosexuality) is morally objectionable or wrong. Acceptance - although x (e.g. homosexuality) is wrong, I have the view that others may do it. Rejection - Reasons to reject x (e.g. homosexuality). Must be stronger than our reasons for accepting it. Seems perfectly possible to be a tolerant homophobe.


However, if we think this isn’t the case, then we must offer further criteria for tolerance.

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Rushed Judgments

Firstly, we may argue that rushed judgments cannot be classed as tolerant. Only responsible judgments can be seen as tolerant - badly thought through judgments are simply ignorant.


BUT, somebody may have come to this prejudiced decision after much thought. They may have been become prejudiced due to this reason. A prejudiced and tolerant person still seems possible.

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Irrational Judgments

Secondly, irrational judgments can’t be tolerant.


WHY NOT? Rationality has nothing to do whether a judgment is moral or not, or whether or not we should or shouldn't accept it.

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Tolerant as a Virtue

Thirdly, we could argue there is a distinction between tolerant behaviour and tolerance as a virtue.


Tolerant behaviour is simply acting in a tolerant manner, whereas tolerance as a virtue is a commitment to tolerance and tolerant values that are a genuine aspect of our character and personality.


If somebody is prejudiced, then we could say they don’t have the virtue of tolerance, even if they are acting tolerantly. People have to believe it is right or moral to act tolerantly, rather than it being the easiest thing to do.

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