A Rethinking of Contemporary Religious Tolerance

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 77:73-82 (2003)
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In relating philosophy to intercultural understanding, one of the key problems that arises is that of the relationship between tolerance and religious belief.This paper challenges the common understanding of tolerance in contemporary debates over religious diversity. It argues that tolerance is overused and over-applied in these debates, and has wrongfully come to refer to tactlessness, harshness of condemnation, and even exclusivity of belief. In seeking to clarify the concept and ensure its appropriate usage, it proposes that religious tolerance should only be applied to beliefs and actions following from those beliefs. It offers a framework in which tolerance about epistemic matters and tolerance about metaphysical matters is differentiated, and proposes that rejecting a certain element of metaphysical tolerance, namely the coexistence of incompatible content, is not a legitimate condition for intolerance. These clarifications enable a more consistent way of understanding tolerance and religious diversity.



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James Delaney
Niagara University

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