Toleration and Pluralism


Toleration and pluralism are complementary principles that build upon one another toward the good society. At its most basic level, toleration is the principle that as long as someone is not substantively harming others, their behavior, speech, and views should be legally permitted. More broadly, a culture of toleration allows divergent ideas, customs, beliefs, and lifestyles to flourish in society. Tolerance, then, leads to pluralism. Arguments favoring religious toleration, for example, champion the notion that human beings who believe different things and practice different faiths can nonetheless live peacefully and productively side-by-side. The principle of pluralism holds that not only can people with different backgrounds, faiths, and opinions live peacefully side-by-side, but they also should because individuals and society benefit greatly from diversity. Pluralistic societies tend to be dynamic and more amenable to positive social change and better able to realize the benefits of the differences among us. 

A pluralistic society contains groups holding a diverse set of ethical views and requires its members to exercise toleration. 
– Dr. Chandran Kukathas

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