- Paperback: 200 pages
- Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (March 3, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0745655572
- ISBN-13: 978-0745655574
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Toleration 1st Edition
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"Cohen tells us that the history of liberalism is the history of toleration. The claim survives reflection: few events in human history have been more important than when your religion ceased to be regarded as a good reason to kill you. Toleration is remarkably bold yet remarkably engaging, simply written, and brimming with insight."
David Schmidtz, Center for the Philosophy of Freedom
"Cohen's book provides an exemplary analysis of what toleration is (and is not), and a lucid assessment of the reasons - strong and weak - why it is so valuable."
Hillel Steiner, Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester and Research Professor, University of Arizona
"Written in an accessible style and unafraid to embrace controversy, Andrew Cohen provides a lively and challenging introduction to the meaning and justification of toleration. He robustly defends his own principles of toleration, and his conclusions about some of the examples he discusses, along with the arguments in favour of them, are especially likely to stimulate debate and discussion, both among students and their teachers."
John Horton, Keele University
"The iron-fisted King Feris treated everyone equally but tolerated little, while King Juris tolerated everything except for harm to others. Who would not prefer King Juris? And who would argue that toleration is not important? Andrew Cohen's snappy, often amusing, style makes the issue come alive, and is more effective than a straightforward argument for the importance of toleration. Cohen also challenges society-wide shibboleths by arguing that drug use, pornography, and prostitution by and with consenting adults ought to be tolerated, but corporations as they are currently instituted ought not. The book is a fine introduction to toleration."
Neera Badhwar, University of Oklahoma (Emerita) and George Mason University (Affiliate)
About the Author
Andrew Jason Cohen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgia State University
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the great mysteries of our world is how it suddenly became so rich. For over 50,000 years of human existence, humans were poor. Only a small elite could raise itself, but only on the backs of everyone else. Then something mysterious happened and over the last two hundred years, but a blink of the last 50,000 years, the world became much richer. About forty times richer in the leading developed countries.
Though there are no clear answers about what happened to trigger this massive, wonderful and ongoing rise in human prosperity, values surely have something to do with it. Tolerance must be among the necessary values.
This scholarly yet admirably accessible work of philosophy describes, evaluates and dissects tolerance with clarity, care and rigour.
Tolerance is the virtue in the middle of the spectrum, with agreement on one side and opposition on the other. As defined by Dr. Cohen, tolerance does not imply agreement. Indeed, disagreement is an essential element of tolerance, for you can not tolerate what you don't disagree with. Not opposing what you disagree with is what makes it tolerance, exactly as you hope another would not oppose you if they disagreed with you. Imagine the breakthrough in human relations to simply live and let live, even if one disagrees with another's choice of religion, marriage partner, customs or politics?
Like Goldilocks' porridge, to be effective tolerance has to be just right. At one extreme, tolerance fails to oppose evil, while at the other, tolerance opposes good. The harm principle is key to striking a balance. Outside of harm, none of the other possible norms considered by Dr. Cohen strike the right balance. Harm, not offence, is what justifies an end to toleration and the beginning of opposition.
Finally, Dr. Cohen considers toleration in the context of children, animals, the environment and social groups, including countries and corporations.
Overall, this book is a worthy addition to the body of knowledge that grapples with the challenge of how we all might live together such that all of us achieve our fullest potential.
I say “for the most part” above because there were a few sections that got bogged down in a bit. First, the theoretical section of chapter 2 seems to play more to a particular trend in professional political philosophy. The value of this chapter in relation to the rest of book was unclear to me. Second, Cohen’s discusses an argument for basing toleration on a principle of benefiting others (4B). This was the one section of the book I found hard to follow; the argument here being opaque. This might be much more to do with the difficulty of trying to articulate a view that is itself unclear than to a deficiency on Cohen’s part.
Cohen is careful to distinguish toleration from relativism, subjectivism, or non-judgmentalism. In fact, Cohen intends his view to be universal and it is based on a kind of objective morality. Moreover, the very idea or need for toleration depends on the prior fact of having judged someone (or his or her actions) to be objectionable.
Although relatively short (156 pp), Cohen’s book covers a lot of ground. It is a useful book for those interested in understand better the concept of toleration, its justification, its value, and its limits.