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Richard J. Bernstein- USA New School for Social Research Pragmatic Reflections on Tolerance



Intolerance, genocide, violent extermination, ethnic cleansing, hate crimes have become ever more widespread and threatening in the contemporary world. The past century may well be known as the century of violent intolerance – and the beginning of this century does not look much more promising. These phenomena are even more disturbing when we consider them against the background of modernity –especially the Enlightenment legacy, and the growth and spread of the varieties of liberalism and social democracy. Many have believed that modern social and political movements would lead to an era greater freedom, equality, solidarity and tolerance. But it would be hard to justify the claim that globally we are living in a world of greater tolerance than earlier centuries.. There are no simple explanations for the causes of the varieties of intolerance. But we can ask, what if anything, can philosophic reflection contribute to the understanding and fostering of tolerance? We need to be at once modest and bold. Modest because it is always an open question of the extent to which any theoretical or normative understanding can directly influence complex social practices. But bold because it is the philosophic task is to articulate the meaning and the justification for tolerant practices

Year: 2011
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