Toleration is an impressive virtue that’s worth reviving

Daniel Callcut in Psyche:

Suppose that I am polyamorous and that my mother disapproves. She tolerates my love life but thinks it’s wrong that I have not one partner but two. What her half-accepting, half-critical attitude reveals is a duality at the heart of toleration, an ambivalence that is beautifully captured by the British philosopher Bernard Williams (1929-2003). Toleration, for Williams, is a central ingredient in thinking through ‘what coexistence under conditions of fundamental disagreement requires’ (to use a helpful phrase from the philosopher Teresa Bejan).

To tolerate, as Williams stresses, is to be conflicted. Toleration involves putting up with something that you would rather not be the case. This doesn’t have to involve moral disapproval: perhaps you just can’t stand your colleague’s taste in music. But toleration is likely to be especially hard when what you experience is moral disapproval. After all, if you think that something is wrong, why not try to stop it happening?

Consider what is called for when one group of people in society (perhaps members of a religion) are asked to tolerate behaviour (perhaps polyamory) they consider sinful.

More here.