Tolerance as Civility

Philosophers' Imprint, Vol. 15, No. 20

13 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2015 Last revised: 22 Aug 2015

Date Written: August 19, 2015


The question of toleration, of whether we should express disapproval at wrongdoing, is distinguished from the question of accommodation, of whether we should interfere with such wrongdoing. Liberal doctrines of accommodation invoke the value of autonomy. A doctrine of toleration is proposed that is based instead on the value of civility, on the (non-instrumental) value of suppressing the public expression of disapproval. Civility is of value within various relationships, a point illustrated by an examination of friendship. This doctrine of tolerance as civility is needed to explain practices of toleration among illiberal peoples and it suggests a way of extending such practices to others who do not value personal autonomy.

Suggested Citation

Owens, David, Tolerance as Civility (August 19, 2015). Philosophers' Imprint, Vol. 15, No. 20. Available at SSRN:

David Owens (Contact Author)

Kings College London ( email )

Philosophy Building
The Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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