Should we be tolerant to intolerants? Are there any limits to tolerance?
In 1945, the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, explained that "in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance".
Every society needs to counter-attack intolerant philosophers (and philosophies) using rational arguments. If this fails, Popper added, society "should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force".
He called this "The paradox of tolerance" and has been the basis to legislate on hate crimes around the world.
Should we allow all manifestations? Who decides what is tolerance? Are there 'grey areas'?
Popper, K. (2012) . The Open Society and Its Enemies. Routledge. p. 581.
Intolerance defeats the whole purpose of being tolerant
Shubhankar KulkarniAug 28, 2020
I think the tolerant should remain tolerant to all. Intolerance (to anyone) defeats the whole purpose of being tolerant. Moreover, the intolerant can feed on and exploit the intolerance of the tolerant to argue against them.
If an x amount of people are intolerant, and another x amount are intolerant to the intolerant, the total number of intolerant people now become 2x. Intolerance breeds intolerance. However, tolerance breeds either tolerance or intolerance. These are the only odds in favor of the tolerant.
Then, the next question that arises is – If the tolerant are not intolerant with the intolerant, will the whole world become intolerant? I think the human nature follows a wave function with time. Too much intolerance will sooner or later lead to a wave of tolerance and the same thing will repeat again. Equal collateral damage is expected in both these scenarios. Clashing with the intolerant will consume the same amount of energy as that of waiting for a large part of the world to be intolerant and then tolerant again (following the wave function).
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Backing John Rawls' solution
Anja MSep 06, 2020
In the "Theory of Justice", Rawls brings out this problem, claiming that if a society is truly tolerant it would have to tolerate the intolerant. However, a limit to this comes if the intolerant in any way threatens the established liberties. This is due to the fact that this way the equality of enjoying these liberties gets threatened directly, and in a society distributing its liberties justly they come higher in hierarchy, thus showing the span limit for such a tolerance. This is the only justifiable case for limiting acting of the intolerant, otherwise the society would show itself in the unjust(ifiable) light. We can perhaps demonstrate this reasoning further: The intolerants cannot complain about not being tolerated. However: a) if we suppress them from a point of a reasonable doubt of their endangering of liberties, we also continue to act justly and with tolerance, and they still cannot complain of not being tolerated.
b) If we use this rationale on vague grounds, it could end up on a slippery slope of much mutual intolerance to come, restricting each other's grounds of basic guaranteed liberties, also potentially creating an oppressive society, etc.