The diverse make-up of modern societies has long been a major preoccupation of political philosophy. It has also been a prominent focus for public policy. How should a society provide for the differences exhibited by its population? Should it view them with indifference, or seek to diminish them in the interest of social cohesion, or view them as positive goods that it should facilitate or promote? The answer cannot be simple, partly because the differences captured by the terms ‘difference’ or ‘diversity’ are themselves so diverse.
The essays brought together in this volume focus on one sort of response to difference: toleration. They were written at different times and deal with different aspects of toleration, but they are characterised by a number of common themes.
Introduction / 1. Making Sense of Political Toleration / 2. Toleration and Neutrality: Compatible Ideals? / 3. Legalising Toleration: A Reply to Balint / 4. Toleration, Religion and Accommodation / 5. Beliefs and Identities / 6. Toleration, the Rushdie Affair and the Perils of Identity / 7. Toleration, Recognition and Identity / 8. Liberalism, Belief and Doubt / 9. Toleration, Value-Pluralism, and the Fact of Pluralism / 10. Can Speech be Intolerant? / 11. International Toleration and the 'War on Terror'
Peter Jones is one of the most important and influential contemporary thinkers on questions of toleration. His originality, sophisticated and nuanced thinking, and sensitivity to both the theoretical and the applied, has justifiably led to this prominence. Essays on Toleration is a key text for all those grappling with the complex politics of contemporary religious and cultural diversity.
Those of us who over the years have admired the keen forensic intelligence displayed in Peter Jones’s writing on toleration, cultural identity and the place of religion in a liberal society will be delighted to find these essays conveniently in one place. They combine the very highest level of argument with a strong commitment to liberal ideals. They are also written is a style that is, quite simply, a delight to read.
The meaning and relevance of toleration – the forbearing to interfere in some practice to which one objects – are both hotly disputed. In this important work, Peter Jones presents a compelling case for the significance of a political conception of toleration. At a time when cultural and religious differences threaten to overwhelm us, this robust defence of a liberal democratic toleration could hardly be more important.
This long-awaited collection of essays confirms Peter Jones’s status as a pioneer in the political philosophy of toleration. Toleration, Jones insists, is not simply a positive virtue, as it implies disapproval and dislike. What follows are sharp, lucid, and startlingly original analyses of the tolerant state, the grounds of religious accommodation, free speech and offense, the ambiguities of cultural recognition and the relationship between liberalism and pluralism. If you read just one volume on the philosophical challenges of toleration today, read this.
a thoughtful, well-argued book.... Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.