Rainer Forst and Adam Etinson, "Toleration and Democracy:" Mellon Sawyer Seminar



welcome to the fourth seminar in our year-long seminar series Mellon Sawyer's seminar series our theme for the for the seminar as a whole is Democratic citizenship and the recognition of cultural differences and we are approaching this topic from many different disciplines and in terms of the many different problems that are implicated in it including all kinds of fossae on cultural minorities and including Islamic and Jewish and others and we are also discussing some of the political issues that come into play which is our focus today besides recognition of cultural minorities and what might be involved in that sort of concept and a key notion is that of toleration and tolerance and intolerance and I feel it's at an especially appropriate time I'm sure you all agree to be discussing toleration in democracy we've been exposed to an intense dose of intolerance which we all sort of can see and acknowledge but philosophically the concept is is interesting and interestingly difficult and so today we're going to have as you know focus on that with our very distinguished speaker I will introduce in a bit let me just take the occasion first of all to tell you how we will be proceeding and to give a few thank-yous and then I'll introduce our speakers our speaker and our commentator our format is to have an address by our distinguished guest rhino force and that will be followed by a comment by Anna listen we will so that's why you wanted it's softer that will that will be followed with by a short break in which you can gather your thoughts and get your questions ready what we the reason we wanted to start so early and go for quite a while is to give an opportunity for real discussion back and forth with the speakers and among the the Mellon fellows faculty and students who are here all of that will be followed by our renowned reception this is co-sponsored by the center for global ethics and politics and we're known for our great wine and cheese reception 'z which we have here and it's even better than usual because it's a melon Sawyer seminar one so you should all be sure to come down with us to the fifth floor it will be in the globalization seminar room in 50 109 so that's not to miss and let me now say just acknowledge a few of the people who with whom I've been working and who've contributed to this my co-organizer Ruth O'Brien and also Richard Wolin and Omar de Boer who I think is not yet here but he's planning to come we have a great help from and a very interesting opportunities for dialogue with our postdoctoral fellow Adam ensign who's here for the year and in addition we have a fantastic group of well as long as I'm talking it's okay we got to fix it for him we have a great group of okay so I just wanted to to say thank you to our group of students graduate students we have two Ras Joshua Keaton and Flannery ham doll and they're both terrific and our super duper assistant and videographer John McMahon as well as a bunch of other students who will help us when they can including Cameron Mosier F and some others who help with the reception and cleanup but they're all accomplished graduate students on the side besides helping us okay and I would also like to thank ya kovash Vassiliou who's here today executive officer in philosophy who would has been extremely supportive of our program and Joe Rollins and Polly SIA has also been terrific in giving us help as has the Provost office and especially Louise Lenihan so I'm really delighted to be able to introduce our distinguished speaker and I think I will try to get both know I guess I should wait for Adams and just focus on Ryan or force who is known to many of you here as one of the foremost philosophers in Germany which is saying quite a lot so he's professor of political theory and philosophy at Goethe University in Frankfurt and co-director of the cluster of excellence on the formation of normative orders there he's also a permanent fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in bad homburg he works on questions of practical reason and the foundation of morality as well as on basic concepts of normative political theory especially justice toleration and democracy which are his themes today which is great his many publications include context of justice which was came out in English in 2002 and the right to justification which has just come out from Columbia and also we're very excited about toleration and conflict which is about to out in a few weeks from Cambridge University Press and I heard that the German version was 800 pages down to 650 for them yeah yeah or something like that so it's a tone I'm sure it's gonna be fantastic and then also he has a book forthcoming in which will be in English called justification and critique in 2013 which will come out from polity press he's also an editor of ethics associate editor of the journal ethics which you've all heard of and he Co edits the series Terry and Gesellschaft and I just heard that he was the winner of the big big prize in Germany for scholarship among all fields in 2012 the liveness prize so we congratulate you on that it's fantastic so I think without further ado I'm I'll pause and introduce Adam right before his comment which will initiate our discussion and let me now introduce writer force thank you so much for coming thanks so much Carol for these awfully kind words thanks to you and the other organizers of this seminar for inviting me it's a great pleasure and an honor to be here and to speak in this series and also it's a great it's a great occasion to see a number of old friends again so I'm very happy and a number of younger colleagues whose whose work I I appreciate very much and Adam Aronson is one of them and so I'm very happy that he's going to comment on my on my paper whether I be happy after his comments I don't know but for the time being it's a it's a great it's a great pleasure so so this works you can hear me well and I will have to figure out how given my I have my eyes I read and read this so I little it will work toleration and democracy usually we have no big problem in mentioning these two important concepts together we do believe in the course of the development of Western democracies they appeared together they are two important achievements in the course of the development of modern democracies and if we are historians of ideas we think of years like 1689 where Locke's two treatises two treatises appear and his letter concerning toleration in the same year of the Glorious Revolution and the Toleration Act of William the third if however we are historians of ideas and I know some of you are of that ilk we if we look a little further about a hundred years we find that in the context of the American and the French Revolutions philosophers like Kant in his famous essay on what is enlightenment speaks of the press sumptuous the arrogant word of toleration in the debates on the human rights declaration in the French National Assembly Mirabeau declares that the concept of toleration smacks of tyranny and in the rights of man pain says Thomas Paine says a similar thing and Goethe some years later formulates and I quote tolerance should be a temporary attitude only it must lead to recognition to tolerate means to insult end of quote so if we look at these reflections it suddenly appears that toleration and democracy might not be twin sisters or brothers they might actually be in a conflict it might appear that toleration belongs to a darker a pre Democratic age of absolutist regimes but on the other hand it seems that and Carroll was alluding to it that in modern democracies which are marked by cultural religious and other differences we can't get by without toleration so there seems to be a profound ambivalence about the term there are also other open questions about toleration one of them is where the famous limits of toleration are to lie but the more fundamental question of course is what toleration actually means why it can be maybe both an insult and a good thing to have and then the question whether toleration is a good thing at all is something I want to I want to address to show why or how often the issue of toleration comes up in current political discourse let me give you some examples and for to make it for you a bit more exotic I chose I chose German examples many of these can be transferred to an American context some of the peculiarities which I won't go into here may be in discussion might might sound however a bit exotic to you there was a big fuss in Germany about 20 years ago but it's still going on about whether a Bavarian law that ordered our crosses or crucifixes to hang on the walls of public classrooms was constitutional and the German Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional and then was the reaction against it for the first time was a wild and vicious reaction against a courts decision that was in the past unheard of the court was denounced as being anti religious and anti-christian and anti-roman or whatever so in this in this debate those who were arguing against that law were saying that it is intolerant to have the symbols of one religion and confession on the walls of public classrooms whereas those who defended the law said it was intolerant of religion to want to have the cross or the crucifix removed in the context of the headscarf conflicts which we have in many in many countries and shayla has has written on this both with respect to the German and the French context in the in these conflicts it is often asserted that it is intolerant to prohibit as it is in Germany a Muslim teacher from wearing a religious headscarf while on the other hand those who who defend that ban argue that indeed wearing the headscarf is a sign of intolerance so you see that in these examples the very thought of the concept of toleration is used by both by both sides similar in another conflict and I understand that in the recent in the recent election tutu is two days ago there were some referenda on same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland and that there's progress on that front there is a similar debate or has been and still goes on in in in Germany whereas those who argue for same-sex marriage or a similar institution which is not called marriage it's another issue argue that it is intolerant to reserve the the institution of marriage for our couples was different different sexes whereas the Conservative Party had a slogan in these debates which ran toleration yes marriage No so you see both sides again claim the concept of toleration for themselves same and the final example I won't bore you with these examples any longer there is there's an ongoing debate where the fascist party the National Democratic Party in Germany should be banned the Constitution leaves that a possibility it has been tried before about 15 years ago our friend Gandalf wagenbach had actually written the the proposal it fell through but the question was should we should we emphasize the limits of democratic toleration by banning that party or is doing so actually a sign of intolerance so if we find a concept as fuzzy as this one in so many different ways used in political discourse we might as philosophers say well maybe we shouldn't use it any longer maybe we should just talk about what rights people have what justice demands what what can be what what can be done by way of an interpretation of basic of basic rights but maybe it is in it but it might on the other hand be interesting to inquire into the concept itself and its history and and to find out why it is such Everland concept and there might be something to be learned so let me let me try and suggest this in a few steps let's first take a look at the very concept of toleration I don't I do believe there is a core to that concept I'm one of the people in philosophy who defend the the that there is a core meaning to concepts like toleration and justice and that we do not find a rivalry of concepts we might find a rivalry of conceptions but not of the of different concepts so the concept of toleration and here I follow a number of other philosophers president King and in a wonderful book in the 70s I think laid it out nicely the concept of toleration I think has three components the first is the component of objection if you tolerate something and for my purposes here I would always speak of believes and or practices whether we should speak of the toleration of persons I'm not so sure about I'd be more comfortable in saying we tolerate some things persons believe or do but not the person itself so the objection means that things you tolerate you actually find wrong false misdirected ugly bad if you don't have an objection against what you tolerate you're not tolerant you're just open to things that are different from the things you do or believe but that's a nice thing but it's not toleration also if you're indifferent if you have really no opinion about what the other is do and no strong judgment you're indifferent but not tolerant quite often a stance of toleration is accused of indifference but in fact I think conceptually that's already a mistake do you need sir once that toleration means the impossibility of saying yes or no you know the wishy-washy thing you you you can't make up your mind that's not that's not toleration there has to be a second come opponent which are called a component of acceptance which means that apart from reasons for why you think something is wrong or misguided you do see other reasons why it would be good or advisable maybe even imperative or a duty to nevertheless tolerated so that's a set of positive reasons but the positive reasons don't strike out the negative ones if they did it wouldn't be toleration it would just be that you've learned something about which you had a negative opinion but now you no longer do so toleration means that the negative reasons and the positive reasons remain in place and so they have to they have to strike a balance there's a third component which are called a component of rejection and it's a second negative component this is where the so-called limits of toleration lie so you tolerate some things you find wrong you see reasons why it should be tolerated until a certain limit is reached until you say this ought not to be tolerated the part of my analysis is to show that the question of toleration really lies in the way these three components are being balanced especially in though in the question of when an objection component one is strong enough to be or to amount to a rejection of something that's really the the the consideration of toleration it's not just what are the reasons for tolerating something it's asking yourself are the reasons that I have against that belief or practice good enough sufficient in a pluralist society to call for the rejection of that practice or for banning headscarves parties other beliefs and practices now so on on that blackboard which there we don't have here you'll find you find oh I didn't order one so just imagine a blackboard you you find three words of our objection acceptance and rejection if we look at these components a bit more closer we find that they're already riddled with certain paradoxes the objection component is riddled with the following paradox we could say that someone who rejects or objects to other human beings because of their race would then be all the more tolerant the stronger this objection would be provided that this person doesn't act on her racist believes maybe for strategic reasons but should we really call someone who is a racist and who doesn't act on his racism tolerant well this raises the question of the of the criteria for what an acceptable objection actually is maybe we shouldn't we shouldn't say that tolerance is in every case the solution to intolerance if intolerance if racism is a form of intolerance and we could say that then is tolerance the solution are we hoping for tolerant racists no we were hoping the objection would go away they would not have that objection so that's a long issue in toleration debates think of the great heroes of the Enlightenment who thought that as long as religious differences remain toleration will be very precarious and unstable so they thought if people think long enough about religious matters they will come to the solution of a natural or reasonable religion a deistic form of religion which is actually not just allowed for but called for by reason so they so many heroes in the history of toleration were actually not arguing for toleration they were arguing against intolerance but what they really attacked were the objections in the first place so that's something to keep to keep in mind on the other hand if we were to raise the rationality and normative criteria for objections very high the stance of toleration would actually be rare to achieve because many people he would we would call for many people just to overcome their objections and when if you think about religious conflicts deep religious or in conflicts about people who deeply feel that one of one religion is true at their face is true that might be too high a hurdle the second component is riddled by the paradox famous paradox much discussed in the literature of moral toleration say the objection to a practice is a moral objection how can then the acceptance component are call upon you to morally if the acceptance component is also a moral component to morally accept what you find morally wrong that seems a clear clear paradox and it calls for a closer look at the nature of objections and acceptance reasons and the third paradox about the third component is easy because wherever the limits of toleration will be drawn those who happen to stand on the wrong side – namely the sides the side that is then called those who are who cannot be tolerated they will of course see this as an arbitrary act of exactly intolerance so if we were to say in a scheme of toleration limits have to be there but as soon as the limits are drawn it is at the same time intolerance in drawing them in a certain way in place then toleration always is its opposite and those of you who know the work of Stanley fish know that you can have a lot of fun with paradoxes like that it all depends on what it means to draw a limit arbitrarily or not arbitrary so I in the end after the two-hour talk that Kara was so kind enough to grab me I'm joking I come back I try and come back to these to these paradoxes I think the conceptual analysis it does show something but it doesn't give you the whole story it does show however that in order to fill out the components of toleration we need additional normative resources because these components so far are formal empty they don't come with values and principles and so the analysis also shows that toleration is a normatively dependent concept a schema of toleration can only work if there are there are additional values autonomy freedom the Word of God are public peace justice which we use to to argue substantively which reasons we are to use to fill out these these conceptions toleration itself is no value it's only a value if it's justified in the right way there can be wrong forms of tolerance and there can be demeaning forms of tolerance I'll come back to that so one closer look into the history of toleration which I actually did it that was a very close look into the history of toleration in this in this book that richard has there indeed it did indeed have 800 pages and I always apologize for it but what can you do I originally I thought the book should have a hundred pages of the history of toleration and a hundred pages systematic argument and 100 pages cases and applications so that sounded like a neat plan but then I got into the history and found found that our common way of thinking about the history of toleration is very wrong it's very one-sided it did not appear in modern times it appeared much earlier and I counted 25 different justifications Toleration and they come in different historical versions and so that's why the book are closed so long anyway it'll come out in English and the translator almost killed himself over it but it's it didn't it didn't happen he's a he's a tolerant guy so looking historically I think we can distinguish a number of conceptions of toleration in which there's a bit more flesh to to these components one conception which is a very important one and which still holds our imagination captive is what I call the permission conception so that's the the fourth word here on the blackboard permission on that conception toleration means that there is an authority that grants one or several minorities their permission to live according to their beliefs and to practice their no no it's a right now there are only five words on this record so it really doesn't you know you've pretty much got it into you in you I hope why do I speak you have it before you the the there is a clear Authority which grants permission to minorities to live according to their faith on the condition on the conditions the social conditions that the authority lays out it says you can do this as long as you do that and not that so the permission given means that all three components what's wrong about a practice why it ought to be tolerated and to what point are all determined by the single authority by the permission giving authority it's a vertical a hierarchical conception and it is the one of course that brought toleration it's bad name because by that you have a structure of allowing and permitting minorities to live according to their beliefs but it's clear that they are second-class citizens they are cannot do what the others the majority in that society does and is allowed to do and and so in the many legislations of toleration think of the toleration of Jews in medieval Christian societies and not just medieval but also early modern and modern societies there is clearly laid out what they could do when they could go to the market which market where where they could live and and so on but think also of other famous legislations like the addictive note of 1598 which in the opening sentences pretty clearly says not to leave any occasion I quote not to leave any occasion of trouble and difference among our subjects we have permitted and do permit to those of the reformed religion to live and dwell in all the cities and places of this our kingdom and countries under our obedience without being inquired after vexed molested or compelled to do anything in religion contrary to their conscience but of course we have to be fair to all we cut it was a courageous thing to have this edict protecting the who cannot in France if you compare it to a – – what happened to the Hogan odds before the addicted and how they were persecuted and tortured and and and driven out of the country and also soon later under racial you and Louis quatorze who actually revoked the addicting that it's no longer necessary in 1685 because there were no who cannot left in the country which sadly speaking was almost true so we have to be fair it is a form of disciplining on a minority but it's also a form of liberating a minority because they have protected spaces to have these protected spaces they have to be super loyal citizens to the monarch so it's often a very strategic thing to do for the monarch he keeps these citizens in the country and they pay with extreme loyalty actually they paid with other things too like money for this protection but on the other hand it's a risky thing because the monarch needs the support of the majority of his society he cannot risk losing the support of the Catholics if you are a king in sixteenth and seventeenth-century France so it's a it's a it's a difficult it's a difficult balance the same structure holds for the Toleration Act of 1689 it's not a happy Act creating equal citizens among different religions it is an act at giving some liberties some permissions I'm not sure we should say rights because they were not rights in the sense that they were laid out in a constitution they were permissions that were granted liberties that were granted to those who did not belong to the Anglican Church and there are many other examples in the Habsburg Empire where Murat Teresa and Joe the ii the end of the 18th century shared the monarchy and joseph thought he ought to tolerate the non-catholics or some some of the more powerful non Catholic religions and his mother wrote him very angry letters saying that he is the greatest failure in her life because he has no idea what the monarchy is about the monarchy she says is not about creating a powerful economic Kingdom the monarchy is about not losing the souls of the people who live in that in our in our Empire and you don't understand your your you've lost you've lost the rationale for what we are about it's a fascinating exchange of of letters in the time of of enlightened of enlightenment so this was an enlightened monarch understood that his his Empire would not survive either repressing the Protestant and the Orthodox believers or driving them out of the country it was just too costly for for the empire now apart from this vertical and hierarchical conception or after it well not quite after it I shouldn't say after it we find we find other ones and one which I want to highlight I call the respect conception that also is a historical development we find arguments for it in the Netherlands in the upheaval of the Netherlands against Spanish rule in the sixteenth century later in England finally in America and France the idea of that conception of toleration that it is an issue not of one majority or earth or authority granting certain liberties to second-class citizens subjects but it is a horizontal conception the citizens tolerate each other because they know that in many areas that are important for their private and social life they will not come to terms they will not agree or they will not agree on the right church but they accept that they ought to agree on common terms of respecting each other as citizens sometimes that that that insight comes out of struggle and it's not a happy moral insight it's a it's a compromise at first but the respect conception full-blown as a democratic conception does imply that the citizens accept that the terms on which they are common and shared institutions should be justified on the basis of reasons and justifications that they can equally share whatever religion they have and that's that's a challenge and that is the democratic conception of toleration I'll in the end say a bit more about now we shouldn't think that the Democratic respect conception came after the permission conception and the permission Concepcion died out with the absolutist regimes because I think what we find when we look at these two conceptions of toleration the hierarchical one and the more horizontal one that in the debates I alluded to at the beginning we find both of them if you hold the permission conception in the crucifix case you would say all right we don't force anyone to pray to the Christian God we understand that there is pluralism so we grant the right to be different to others but we will not yield and will not remove the symbols of the majority of the people from the walls of a public classroom because the positive freedom that's a nice there's a nice invention in in in German constitutional law the positive religious freedom which is the freedom to express your beliefs whereas the negative religious freedom is the freedom to be left alone from religious symbols and practices now it's an interesting invention because the lower courts had argued that the positive freedom of the majority in Bavaria calls for the expression of their religious symbols brackets through law in public classrooms and that the plaintiffs who didn't who wanted to have these symbols removed were simply arguing making a negative case they wanted to be free from religion so they were the way the way the the claims have been reconstructed was already very partial the ones were just making a negative argument and somewhat anti religious arguments the others just wanted to express their beliefs and and also it was argued that the crucifix is not really an expression of belief but a general symbol of the of Western of Western history so it's very difficult to argue both things at the same time that it is an expression of the positive freedom of many people and at the same time not really a religious symbol but these these courts did did make that did you know if you if you put one page between these two these two things you can you might as well say them in one in the same judgment and people might not might not notice but the the Constitutional Court did notice that you cannot make both claims and the Constitutional Court and said yes of course it is a religious symbol and therefore it should not be on on the walls in the headscarf controversy people who defend the permission conception will say of course we let everyone become a teacher but the conditions under which someone can be a teacher we lay down and the condition is you don't wear a headscarf sure you can be a Muslim you can be a woman too but you can't be a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf so what's the problem about it for the respect conception there is a huge problem here because you you arrogate the authority to determine what it actually means to wear a headscarf while you let people who wear crosses another symbol religious symbols there's no problem for them to be teacher to be teachers in a German school but if you wear a headscarf there is a problem and and that is that that's an injustice from the perspective obviously of the respect conception the slogan when it came to same-sex marriage tolerance yes marriage no we can't say that these people misunderstood what toleration means they very well understood it they understood what the permission conception means it means you leave minorities or people who are different some room but you don't give them equal rights that's exactly what the permission Concepcion is about from the respect Concepcion viewpoint that's a an unjustifiable thing to do it calls for equal rights and if you deny equal rights to people you have to have a strong argument that doesn't simply reproduce your own face why that practice should not be granted equal equal rights the problem with the fascist party is a complicated problem because based on the respect conception of the Democratic respect conception a party which openly aims a to abolish democracy cannot claim a right to be tolerated in that way here the Friends of the permission conception have an easier case they say all right maybe we shouldn't tolerate them that maybe for strategic reasons it's better to have this party tolerated than to have it go underground we can much better oversee what they do and have our informants if they are a political party than they are if they are an underground party actually the informant issue was the one that did explode 15 or 20 years ago the the ban proposal because what our friends who wrote up the ban didn't know was that many of the quotations from the party representatives about their aims of that party were actually quotations from people who the philosopher sorry call that the constitute the the the the the well did the secret police who protects the the Constitution these were people who had been paid by the secret police burn the payroll so they were informants so so that the whole crafted 200 page proposal are showing what this party was about did have a number of rotations from people who the fastening shots have been had sent there so it exploded so it couldn't and the fascist party had a great time when this when when this happened but before we say done that in these cases the respect conception actually falls back into the permission conception we should be we should be careful it's not the same thing if you have a permission conception where the authority arbitrarily decides who can be tolerated or if you have a permission conception where the principle tells you there's not a right to be tolerated but there might be additional good reasons for tolerating an intolerant and anti-democratic party so it's not that I think the respect conception falls back into the into the permission conception now what I haven't said much about is the justification for the respect conception what's the notion of respect that is central here and I have to speed up a little so I will not go into length at length why classical arguments for respecting practices and beliefs of others don't quite work think of the classical argument about freedom of conscience that's surely one of the most important arguments it's a very old one we find it in antiquity we find it in Augustine and many others before Locke it was it was argued that it was a two-fold argument first conscience cannot be forced and second it must not be it cannot be because conscience is an autonomous thing you cannot force someone to believe something he or she does not believe in conscience is not the kind of individual cognitive entity that reacts to force now already Augustin and for those of you who looked into the history of toleration you've probably come across our Prois Jonah's provost the anglican priest who wrote the letters against John Locke's letters which made Locke produce three more letters concerning toleration which always reacted to letters Provost had written but in the end Locke died over the fourth letter and provost had made a simple argument that Augustine had already made Augustine had argued yeah I believe that too that conscience cannot be the object of force but the experiences with the doughnut ists and what the church did to them and how many doughnuts wrote Augustine letters thanking the church for pushing them out of their wrong ways and for opening their eyes Augustine says yes it is true that we cannot force the right insight into people but we can use force to liberate them from their false beliefs and then there is a limbo and then the right teaching will give them the right direction so force has a wonderful negative effect it shakes people loose from their false beliefs and Augustine said terror is a wonderful means for that and process you lay bricks and thorns on the false ways people will then have to turn and then you teach them the right thing and the love of God so that conscience cannot be forced and we have many more modern examples I think where we can see that there you can do a lot in terms of directing consciences is is probably not a valid argument a valid empirical argument so why would concert why did people think conscience must not be forced well the argument was and it's also one we already find in Augustine but there was a there was a medieval Augustinian called Luther who made a lot out of it conscience is the place in our soul where we stand before God it is as Luther said the property of God it's not our property our conscience it's the work of God in us and so we must not force it because then we encroach upon God's prerogative it is God who interacts with our conscience and not human beings now this famous argument we find in Locke and that's also the argument where which made Locke say that our Catholics should not be tolerated because they don't have a conscience of that kind because they're willing to bind their conscience to an inner verily sovereign which is what people who have the proper conscience don't do and atheists of course don't have a conscience in the first place so why should they be why should they be tolerated there are many modern variants of the argument for liberty of conscience one of them is the post million argument that people should be the autonomous authorities to decide about their good life they should be creators of the good life only the good life lived from with from the inside as Nozick once said can be the good can be the good life so it's a it's an ethical arguments an argument about the good life which serves them for as the core of the toleration or you may find it in will communique and many others now that's also a questionable argument and my old friend Augustine would have said how do you know that the autonomously chosen an Augustine would have added what actually does it mean to autonomously choose your way of life whoever did that who are you to know that the autonomously chosen a good conception of the good is a precondition for living a good life I can imagine people who have not chosen their notions of the good life and who lead a good life subjectively as well as objectively so the argument what a precondition for the good life is I think it's a shaky thing its itself a conception of the good which is reasonably disputable it is not it is it is not a truth about ourselves which we can be as sure of as about other things so in brief the respect conception of toleration for that and I come to a close I have another hero in the in the history of toleration and it is Pierre Bayle who cannot philosopher a wonderful philosopher he he argued a number of courageous things such as the thought experiment in a wonderful book the thought experiment what would it mean for a society of atheists to exist would that be a possibility in the 17th century that's that's an unusual argument to make and he was arguing that it could potentially be much more peaceful than a religious society because many reasons of conflict would not exist in that society he has a long treatise on toleration in which he argues essentially that if you know in a conflict in a religious conflict each party claims the truths or the authority to determine the common arrangement of life the norms they all have to live under to determine this on the basis of their own religious beliefs it will never happen because then each party just claims its beliefs to be the truth so they have to find a justification on a different level they have to find justifications for the norms they all live under which do not reproduce the religion of A or B there has to be a principle of justification to all equally produce the justifications for the norms they are to accept but that has an end that principle to respect others as equal just effect Oriya thora tease that principle bail was a principle of practical reason so he was a proto Kantian why did he think it was a principle of practical reason he said look at the religious conflicts of our time do you notice that whenever someone irrigates the authority to determine what this aside how this society should develop and puts in his or her own beliefs that it always reproduces partiality if you see see that what is it that makes you see that it is an insight into the possibility of an impartial argument and so isn't practical reason the capacity to at least seek impartial arguments when you see that the warring factions just reproduce their own beliefs the truth of which is just what the dispute is about then people said ok bail must be a skeptic because for that argument to accept you have to give up the idea that your religion is true don't you and many people read bail in that way but they mistreat him Beldon was not a skeptic he did not say there is no truth in religion he said yes there is truth in religion but it is religious truth it is true that you affirm on the basis of faith not on the basis of knowledge so did he say religion was against reason no he said it is beyond reason he said it is digital erase all religion answers metaphysical questions that reason allows for and that reason alone cannot answer why there is evil in the world bail says yeah that's a good question religions have something to say about but whether you believe in original sin is a matter of faith not a matter of what will reason demands does reason allow for it they said yes it allows for it reason understands where its limits lie in giving a metaphysical answer to a metaphysical question so either it rules out certain answers but not all answers it leaves it leaves it open they'll also believed that reason is the capacity for people to understand where the limits of reason lie and where the proper realm of religion begins so he's not a skeptic he's a half skeptic he believes that knowledge and reason do not tell us the truths about religion faith might tell us the truth about religion but then we have to know as reasonable persons that it is truth on the basis of faith so those who have faith shouldn't shouldn't arrogate the the authority to determine what how a society ought to be structured for themselves on the basis of their of their faith and those who have no faith shouldn't arrogate the authority to say that those who have faith are irrational because they are not sometimes they're irrational like when they mix up a natural reason with their religion and they believe the appearance of a comet is a sign of God that Bale said if you have science that tells you what happened there there's no death there's no good reason to say that it was a sign sent by God but for many other metaphysical reasons there is there is room for speculation and for difference so Baylor wasn't the first to come up with the idea of what Rawls later called reasonable disagreement it is precisely the disagreement in religious matters where we disagree about what the truth about the good life the soul or whatever is and reason frames these debates but reason cannot answer these questions with its own power it has to accept its own finitude so there's a there's a realm of reasonable district where people think the others are wrong but not unreasonable in giving a religious answer to a metaphysical to a metaphysical question and in the course of that book I came across a number of people who had similar ideas earlier than than Bale Buddha for example in a wonderful book he wrote as it's a dialogue between seven different religions wrote it in the end of the 16th 16th century and these defenders of different religions for an endless book dispute all kinds of religious questions and the old form of religious dialogues in the Middle Ages were always that the Christian would win if it goes well the the the jewel remains in the dialogue until the end but in many Christian dialogues he falls out earlier and it's clear that you know this is an unbelievable thing to hold and then there are others who fare a little better with with Buddha is different until the end everyone has in principle the power to refute rationally what the others say and in the end they say oh my friends we have to come to the conclusion that our powers of reason are enough to say what we find wrong about the others belief but they are not sufficient to say who is right here so they did they part and decide from now on no longer to discuss religion but respect each other as reasonable eating's many people many philosophers believe that the notion of reasonable disagreement doesn't make sense if you believe in the truth of something you will not believe that others who don't believe that truths are reasonable and I think that's a major mistake you don't understand the epistemic register of religion if you hold that that consideration and and and I was very happy to see their roles in his in his late statement about his religion actually refers to bow down and that text of bow down when he when explains the notion of reasonable disagreement and had he known bail or had I known bail when I know Rawls he would have been very happy to find a royal Geum in the early 17th century now the paradoxes I I should leave here you probably have a hint now at how they can be resolved the tolerant racist I already spoke about tolerance is not always the right reaction to intolerance the paradox of moral tolerance how can it be morally right to tolerate or it's morally wrong has to be differentiated the objection reasons if the objection reasons are strong moral reasons it cannot be morally right to respect what is morally wrong the reasons for objection have to be of a different kind than the reasons of acceptance and and rejection and the drawing of limits yes if in the realm of drawing these limits we have no way to distinguish an arbitrary drawing from a non arbitrary that paradox cannot be resolved and in that case indeed toleration remains a completely partial principle in the Schmid Ian's fight between friend and foe it just depends on where you stand what you think where the limits are but for a Balian that is an unreasonable stance for a Balian in the realm of reasons there is the possibility of drawing the limits maybe you may be wrong in where you draw them because you're a finite being but in principle the principle of impartial justification or reciprocal justification should guide you when you think you are justified in drawing the limit of toleration I'm sorry for going on for that long thank you okay thank you very much that was stimulating and provocative and hopefully you're gathering your questions to facilitate our discussion I think we should move now to Adam is that okay to your comment and then we'll take a short break and have the unless you're really exhausted from the heat no you're okay okay so I'd like to introduce our our very own Adam Edinson who is our postdoctoral fellow under the Mellon Sawyer grant that we have and he's here for the year and we picked him out of 100 applicants so clearly rose to the top he received his DPhil degree in philosophy from Oxford in 2011 working with especially Jeremy Waldron as well as John to sue us and Roger crisp his thesis was entitled human rights and the problem of ethnocentrism and he defended in epistemological interpretation of the problem of ethnocentrism and suggested two limited respects in which ethnocentrism can be avoided in moral argument he works now also very much in the philosophy of human rights and has research interests in related areas of moral and political philosophy including theories of liberalism toleration cosmopolitanism and moral epistemology last year Adam was a research postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for ethics at the University of Montreal he has a couple of articles I'll just mention titles one is Aboriginal oral history evidence and Canadian law a second one is on cosmopolitanism cultural moral and political and recent one is political and naturalistic conceptions of human rights a false polemic question mark and he's working on a on an edited book on human rights moral or political so he's perfectly ready and by his background to comment on this paper and him please okay um so thanks for having me and it's a real honor to be commenting on such a great presentation by such a wonderful scholar and especially one that fits in so well with the Mellon Sawyer seminar theme which is of course Democratic citizenship and the recognition of cultural differences for which toleration is very important concept so I'll try and be as quick as I can cuz I know you know you probably want to take a bit of a break before discussions come so professor Forrest invites us to think pretty carefully about the concept of toleration and specifically about the various different practices and ideals which often get jumbled together under that heading and he wants us to to draw some careful distinctions and he thinks we can do two important things if we draw such distinction so one it's going to help us resolve certain conceptual paradoxes which he which he referred to so for instance the paradox of the tolerant racist which he mentioned the idea that I can become more tolerant if I become more racist by as long as I don't interfere with those who those persons who I object to on the basis of their race which sounds a bit strange obviously and other paradoxes like that of drawing the limits of toleration so every time I draw the limits to to what I'm going to tolerate those who I no longer tolerate are gonna see those limits as themselves arbitrary and intolerant so is there any non arbitrary way to set these limits so we can arbitrate those those disagreements um so that's one thing these distinctions are gonna help us do and then another is that they'll help us analyze and decide certain very hard cases which professor force mentioned such as the crucifix decision you know what is toleration have to say about crucifixes in public schools what does it have to say about Muslim female teachers wearing headscarves in public schools and what does it have to say about the Democratic exclusion of parties like the bee and the NDP in Germany or the BNP in the UK so if we draw these distinctions we're going to be able to help analyze we're gonna be a bit analyze and solve these these hard cases so what he suggests in particular is that we draw a distinction between what I thought was an older kind of permission conception of toleration and a newer one respect based version but you don't seem to go for the time line anyway so it's okay so unlike the permission-based conception of toleration where you have a political authority whether it's a monarchy or it's a Democratic majority granting permission to some minority which it deems wayward or objectionable to nevertheless continue with its with its deplorable or objectionable practices the respect based toleration is different it's a horizontal conception rather than what he calls a vertical or hierarchical conception and what it involves is citizens essentially taking an attitude of respect towards one another as the equal holders of political power so there's not a single higher political power granting permission but citizens as equal arbiters and holders of political power taking an attitude of respect towards one another so in this way it involves granting all citizens equal rights that can be accepted by or justified to all that's the basic distinction that he wants to draw and it's here that the idea of democracy or the theme of democracy comes into the mix because according to Professor force it's only the respect based conception of toleration that captures the idea of toleration latent in the theory and practice of democracy so to the extent that toleration is seen as a kind of non democratic practice or value or at least when it's in tension with democracy that's because it's entangled with this old permission-based conception so the old kind of objections that you get to toleration from Goethe and and Mirabeau and Thomas Paine which professor Forrest brought up the idea that toleration smacks of tyranny or that it's a form of insult those objections really only stick to this permission-based conception or at least they they're mainly directed at that in this respect based conception this alternative is supposed to be able to escape those objections and and be a better alternative in that respect so that's one of the benefits of the of the respect based conception of toleration that is able to evade these old objections that you know we're formerly developed by Goethe and Mirabeau and and Thomas Paine and maybe more recently by people like Wendy Brown who have similar objections of toleration is a kind of demeaning practice so at least the the respect based conception mitigates those objections and how does it do that well instead of instead of toleration being this morally and political politically hierarchical concept instead you have a conception where all the citizens are seen as equal members of the of the moral political community so they're seen as the equal holders of power the limits of toleration aren't set by the views the ethical views of the majority but are rather determined on the basis of shareable and reciprocal reasons that can be justified to all and that are not controversial in a democratic society so ideas like basic rights democratic respect the right to justification and of course because the respect based version requires a neutral public culture which wouldn't stigmatize or exclude my as second-class citizens for their differences so in these ways professor force conception of democracy is an improvement on on the permission-based version of toleration or at least it tries to make toleration a more modern concept or at least more viable in in the modern in modern contexts but it doesn't go quite as far as let's say recognition based theories of of toleration have so you could see it's people like anna elizabeth a gal a RT who who said that toleration should really become about recognition so something like the celebration of the equal value of different cultures as answering these old objections they're trying to resuscitate the conception the the idea of toleration and maybe a more dramatic way and I think it's good that professor force doesn't go quite that far because I think once you turn toleration into a matter of celebrating the equal value of all cultures the equal value of different beliefs and practices you start to lose hold of what makes toleration toleration which is that there's something you're objecting to initially so I think you start to stretch the concept beyond a reasonable limit if you go or at least you start to muddy the concept if we turn toleration into a form of acceptance it might be a good thing as professor for said but it doesn't sound like toleration anymore at least it's problematically a form of toleration so I think it's good that he doesn't go that far and I also think it's professor fourths right to emphasize the power of fallibilism as you know or doctrines that attest to what he calls the finitude of reason and its inability to generate absolutely certain conclusions on more on theory theoretical matters and the resulting inevitability of something like reasonable disagreement as an important element in the case for toleration so if I can't be absolutely certain that my moral and theological convictions are correct then this gives me less reason to try to impose those views on you and it also gives me reason to actually hear what you have to say and potentially learn from what you think on these matters rather than say imprisoning you of course so that's a sort of fallible istic argument you get in mill and that you get in bale to some extent I think as well when I read beiow these I it was there you get it in popper and you do get it to some extent in Rawls in his own way and I think it's I think professor forces right to kind of draw on that very venerable argument entered in historical discussions and contemporary discussions of toleration and I also think he's right to emphasize the role of something like what he calls the right to justification in modern democratic theory so I think it does seem to be part of the very idea of a liberal democratic order that the use of political power be justifiable or acceptable to all citizens regardless of the fact that they disagree they hold different views on what's good and what God exists and what kinds of gods exist and you know there is this idea that some effort must be made in a liberal democracy to make the political order justifiable to all citizens despite this fact oh so so to find some common ground and insofar as professor force conception of toleration captures that idea I think it does capture something central to modern democratic theory and practice so I just want to end by raising some questions about professor force account so one of the things he says is that with his respect based conception of toleration we can tackle this paradox of the limits of toleration so every time I impose a limit to what I can tolerate that limit going to look arbitrary from the point of view of those I'd no longer tolerate so we have a question about whether we can set a non arbitrary limit here and his way of answering the question of why say the NDP in Germany a far-right party I can't complain about the state's not tolerant tolerating their their party platform is that the NDP itself infringes on this set of shareable and reciprocal values that are non-controversial in a Democratic Society so things like basic civil rights Democratic respect the rights of justification itself so in other words as long as we let basic democratic values dictate the limits of toleration then we can avoid toleration as long as we let as long as we only prohibit beliefs and practices that conflict with these basic democratic values then the limits that we set to toleration and so doing won't be arbitrary or question begging so the question that I have is how that works exactly how does that argument work so how exactly does Professor forests generate that conclusion so I'm sure he has more to say about it then he's told us here obviously has this several books coming out one of them 650 pages some sir somewhere in there the argument is split ISM put out but all we know at this point is that things like basic civil rights and the rights to justification and democratic respect these values are values that are practiced in a democratic society that's that's pretty much all he's told us about these things and which are to set the limits of toleration and so we don't know anything yet about their validity we haven't been told anything about their validity nor do we know enough about these values to be able to deem them incontrovertible not subject to reasonable disagreement or objectively binding or true or non arbitrary so in order to get that we need to hear arguments that explain why these values have the compelling sort of authority that you say they do and this isn't to say that such arguments you know can't be made but that we just don't know what they are yet and that it's important that we do because otherwise the paradox just comes in back again we don't know why these are not arbitrary limits that you're setting so that's one thing and it also opens up to a larger kind of more general and a little slightly more subtle problem or set of problems so I think there's a danger in the recent tendency in liberal theory to stop asking questions about the justification of basic liberal values and instead to just start with the idea of reasonable persons who endorsed these values and then to work up a theory of justice or of toleration from there and I think the danger in doing that and of course Rawls is one very good example of this is the promotion of a kind of blind acceptance or affirmation of the self evidence of a non controversial nature of liberal values so what's really so dangerous about that you might say because these seemed like quite self-evident norms well for one as I said it impairs our ability to do something like answer the paradox of the limits of toleration right because we can't explain why the structured use of political power in a liberal democracy against things that a liberal democracy will typically deem intolerable racist sexist some xenophobes murderers why is that not arbitrary why is that you some power not arbitrary if we can answer the question of the paradox of the limits and we can tell us that ourselves why these are not arbitrary uses of political power unless we asked for unless we somehow look for a justification of these values so that's one problem which I vote mentioned but secondly I think it impedes our ability to at least even minimally respect those who we deem illiberal like for instance those who are less convinced of the superiority of say a secular liberal political order and maybe prefer a theocratic alternative or something like that and why does it leave us unable to minimally respect them well because it leaves us unable to do them the duty of at least explaining why we think they're wrong especially if they live in our midst because we don't know why because we haven't answered the question for ourselves so we can't explain to the unconverted why we think they're wrong and also I think we've become locked into the conviction that we actually don't need to explain to E Liberals why they're wrong at all in fact they don't deserve such an explanation and we don't need to hear what they have to say about the matter because actually there's something wrong with them they just don't get it they're crazy they haven't grasped something that's self-evident to everyone else and you know I can understand why you might why we all might want to adopt that sort of attitude towards a party like the NDP or the BNP in the UK horrible political parties but I think to do so is nevertheless a form of disrespect and would be a way of stooping to their level in a certain sense maybe not quite to their level but but it would be a form of disrespect nonetheless and lastly I'll just end here I think there's kind of axiomatic theoretical presumption of liberal democratic values that you get very often in in recent liberal theory leads us to forget how deeply ambiguous and indeterminate these values are so there's so much room even within this horizon of assumptions Democratic respect the right to justification basic civil rights what do those really mean there's so much controversy but what those norms and values and principles really mean that they're not in themselves gonna clearly tell us what to do about even among them some of the cases that I think you've mentioned and it apart from them a host of basic and important issues so for instance they don't tell us anything about the moral status of fetuses and so whether abortion is acceptable or whether it's not acceptable they don't tell us how to balance the value of Social Inclusion against the value of free speech how we can arbitrate conflicts of that sort they don't tell us how or whether to allow parties like the BNP or the NDP to participate and be included in our political processes in order to get those conclusions to sort out those cases you need a vast amount of interpretive argument you need empirical work and the values themselves aren't going to give you the answer so did to invoke them as the ultimate arbitrators of these hard cases in in toleration it seems to really raise more questions than it answers and I think what we would need to do it seems to me if you wanted to answer more questions than you'd raise is to say or give a little bit more of a detailed explanation about how your maybe special interpretation of the liberal tradition of these these values which have been such a bulwark of the liberal tradition for so long how it helps us navigate them these issues and again I don't want a presumably you haven't done that because very well may have that it seems important so that's it

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