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Tolerance & Forgiveness: Virtues or Vices?

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This paper explores the relationship between tolerance, forgiveness, and justice. Contrary to prevailing wisdom, it argues that tolerance and forgiveness are not independent virtues vying with justice for our allegiance, but that they fall under justice’s imperative to judge other people objectively and treat them as they deserve. Misguided extensions of tolerance and forgiveness imperil the very values that ethics is designed to promote. Thus tolerance and forgiveness are neither virtues nor vices; they are appropriate only when authorised by justice. The paper clarifies the common confusion of tolerance with respect for individuals’ rights, and argues that forgiveness is not a supererogatory act of generosity, but is sometimes morally required.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712-1180, USA

Publication date: 1997-04-01

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