Tolerance, Loyalty to Values and Respect for the Law

Ethical Perspectives 1 (1):27-32 (1994)
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The modern idea of the right to freedom of each human being can be briefly described as follows: it is the right to personal judgment in matters of what is true and good and to selfdetermination of one’s life and actions in view of this judgment. Today this right is considered as the most basic, or one of the most basic, unquestionable rights of the individual. At the same time, our present situation is characterized by an undeniable pluralism. We have practically given up the hope that individuals, through their own judgment, will come to an agreement as to what are the central values in life, as to what is the good life. On the contrary, too much unity and agreement immediately raises the suspicion of more or less hidden constraint or indoctrination.In a pluralistic, free society, every defense of what is the good can only be seen as the defense of a particular conception of the good, which is potentially threatening for the self-determination of other individuals. The combination of the stress on freedom and the fact of pluralism, leads to an extreme importance being given to tolerance. Tolerance, together with the multiplicity of life-styles, seems to be something positive in itself. Within this perspective, the real question does not seem to be whether tolerance is something positive in itself, but whether it has any limitations



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