Justifying Tolerance in Liberal Societies: The Need for Public Morality

Open Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):10-16 (2012)

Abstract

One of the most important assumptions in liberal societies is that citizens should be tolerant of a diversity of values. We are challenged by this assumption to justify restraint when we confront what we oppose, disapprove of, or perceive to be immoral, even if we have the power to suppress perceived immoralities. Based on the work of Elliot Turiel, Jonathan Haidt, and Gerald Gaus, the argument developed in this article is that the best way to address the challenge is to distinguish between public morality and other normative categories such as convention and private morality. Public morality circumscribes what should not be publicly tolerated. Conventional and private immoralities that are not prohibited by public morality should be tolerated

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