The question of toleration matters more than ever. The politics of the twenty-first century is replete with both the successes and, all too often, the failures of toleration. Yet a growing number of thinkers and practitioners have argued against toleration. Some believe that liberal democracies are better served by different principles, such as respect of, or recognition for, people's ways of life. Others argue that because the liberal state should be entirely neutral or indifferent towards people's ways of life, it can no longer be tolerant - it has no grounds on which it can object, and so there is nothing left to tolerate. Respecting Toleration provides a new, original, and provocative take on the question of toleration and its application to the politics of contemporary diversity. Peter Balint argues for both the conceptual coherence and normative desirability of toleration and neutrality. He argues that it is these principles which best realise the basic liberal good of people living their lives as they see fit, rather than appealing to principles of recognition or respect for difference.
While those who criticised liberalism's failings in dealing with the claims of diversity had justification, it is the tenets of traditional liberalism that hold the answer. Respecting Toleration argues that if one cares about people living divergent lives, then it is liberal toleration that should be respected by legislators and policy makers, and not people's differences.
Peter Balint is a Senior Lecturer and Head of International and Political Studies at the University of New South Wales in Canberra. He is a political theorist, and his current research focuses on the issues of diversity, inclusing toleration, respect, neutrality, and national identity. His previous works include Multiculturalism and the Fair Terms of Integration (co-edted with Sophie Guerard de Latour, Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).