The Paradox of Tolerance

Author: dylancatlow ,

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  • dylancatlow
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    The Paradox of Tolerance was an argument put forth by Karl Popper which describes the circumstances under which it would be justified for a society committed to the principle of tolerance to forcibly suppress the expression of certain ideas. Karl Popper believed that a tolerant society would be acting in the interest of tolerance by silencing those with "intolerant" views when the expression of those views would threaten the tolerance of the society. According to Popper, if one is in favor of tolerance, then one should seek the maximize it, and this sometimes requires fighting intolerance with intolerance. On the other hand, if one is not in favor of tolerance, then one has no reason to complain if the intolerant are suppressed. Either way, according to him, the principle of unlimited free speech is indefensible. 

    The main flaw with the argument, or at least with its modern interpretation, is that "tolerance" is being used in two different senses. A society incorporating free speech as an absolute principle need not be a society committed to tolerance in any wider sense. That is to say, an ardent defender of free speech is only obliged, according to the argument, to suppress views that directly threaten free speech but not any other kind of "intolerance". They can want society to be tolerant of more than just people's speech, but they need only maximize free speech itself and not any other kind of tolerance in order to be considered a "true believer in free speech". Those who insist that society suppress intolerant views which don't call free speech into question cannot rely on the argument that "If free speech is good, then this person, whose views are at odds with free speech, must be silenced in the name of free speech". Instead, they have to rely on the a priori assumption that a view is bad if it is deemed by society as "intolerant". But this is no more justified than society trying to silence all views the majority considers "wrong", whether or not "intolerance" is the reason they are deemed wrong. 

    At most, the Paradox of Tolerance requires that society prevent people from speaking out against free speech, and arguably, this would entail suppressing those who interpret the Paradox of Tolerance to mean that silencing all "intolerant" views is consistent with the principle of free speech. 
  • RationalMadman
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    Right wing libertarian BS in a nutshell. Glad you've exposed them.
  • dylancatlow
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    --> @RationalMadman
    Modern SJW liberals are the ones who appeal to the argument, so.  
  • Mopac
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    So intolerent of the intolerant that you never listen to them long enough to see how they aren't really intolerant.

    Or you know, start chucking ignorant people into furnaces because they were never told no different.

    That is why when you condemn others, you are really condemning yourself because you aren't really any better. The merciless will be shown no mercy.




  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @dylancatlow
    Objectivity promotes demonization.

    Detectable - Able to be discovered or identified either directly or indirectly.
    Objectivity - Utterly free of and existing independently from any possible subjective feelings, opinions and/or any prejudice; indisputable and seen identically by all possible observers; not subject to variation, change or interpretation.
    Promotes - Lends support or actively encourages.
    Demonization - Characterization of individuals or groups as irredeemably and purely evil, disingenuous, "fundamentally and incurably stupid and/or evil", or intellectually deaf and blind. A "black and white" "my way or the highway" point of view that casts all possible human participants as either "the good guys" or "the bad guys".

    The rather bizarre Orwellian concept of "objectivity" has somehow managed to worm its way into our language. Practically everyone falsely believes (with unjustifiable confidence) that "objectivity" exists and is an unquestionable ideal-high-goal and more so that their own beliefs are "more objective" or "fair and balanced" than their detractors, and beyond that, all their detractors are either being disingenuous, "are fundamentally and incurably stupid and/or evil", or intellectually deaf and blind. Case closed. Let's all go back to our bubbles.

    This premise about "objectivity" detailed above, allows people to pretend great atrocities are justified against "non believers" because "they deserve what they get". Side note: In order to properly justify such a hypothesis (like "they deserve what they get") would require significant and detailed philosophical exploration and conveniently, Wittgenstein has given the unstudied and others a glib excuse to categorically dismiss the entire pursuit of "philosophy" because it has been deemed "useless" (by one man). In other words, if you believe in a black and white world and "philosophy" muddies the waters, then "philosophy" is a "problem" and must be wrong, ex post-facto. This is an example of "affirming the consequent" (a logical fallacy) which basically means you are "closed minded" and only seek serious exploration of ideas that you believe are likely to reinforce your own pre-conceived ideas, technically known as prejudices.

    And before you think I'm trying to single out one particular group of people, "godless secular liberal progressives" are just as guilty of this type of thinking as the other more obvious religious and political targets.

    The simple fact that people (Trumpies are just one example) are able to very effectively dismiss and deflect all criticism by characterizing their detractors as "biased" proves how pervasive and insidious and anti-intellectual this ideal-high-goal of "objectivity" is. This specific technique is a combination of "false choice" and indirect "ad hominem" attack. In formal logic it is widely recognized as an illegitimate form of argument (logical fallacy). And yet, by all accounts "millions of people" think this qualifies as a plausible line of reasoning.

    Now before you dismiss me as "a crack pot", I would like to point out that I do believe "a broad consensus" is a very good standard for "truth". And even Karl Popper admits, when pressed, that science isn't based on "objectivity" but rather on "a broad consensus" of "well qualified individuals", which in a lot of ways is nearly functionally identical, but with the key difference being that "a broad consensus" doesn't necessarily categorize detractors as either being disingenuous, "fundamentally and incurably stupid and/or evil", or intellectually deaf and blind. It at least leaves the door open to the idea that there may be some legitimate disagreement based on contrary evidence or other logical considerations without an automatic reflexive leap to pure demonization (terrorism is another good example of this).

    Feel free to expand upon and/or challenge any of the arguments described above or add your own. I look forward to having a civil conversation regarding the topic at hand.
  • Mopac
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    --> @3RU7AL
    You wouldn't say that locking up and permanently depriving a moose from food will result in the moose starving to death? You wouldn't call that objective?


  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Mopac
    You wouldn't say that locking up and permanently depriving a moose from food will result in the moose starving to death? You wouldn't call that objective?
    I would call it a fact as long as you and I agree explicitly on your definitions.

    Your statement can't possibly be "objective" because neither you nor I are capable of making any "objective" statements.

    Every possible thing we can think, say, or do is sample biased and muddled with opinion.
  • TwoMan
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    --> @3RU7AL
    How does the statement "the moose is dead" violate your definition of objective?
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @TwoMan
    How does the statement "the moose is dead" violate your definition of objective?
    An objective statement can only be made by an objective observer.

  • TwoMan
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    --> @3RU7AL
    What is an objective observer?
    And can mathematical statements be objective?
  • Mopac
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    --> @3RU7AL
    I think what you are saying that we can only be objective from a relative standpoint.This is precisely the reason that operationalism was introduced into scientific experimentation.

    But going by your very stringent standards for what actually constitutes "objective", it would seem that nothing short of God actuallly could qualify as an objective observer. Since there are more observers than God, there cannot be objectivity, because only God sees things as they are, and no one else sees things the same way.

    By these standards, you can't really make any statements of truth. As I said though, this is why operationalism was introduced into the scientific process.


    But to get back on topic and tie this all in... what this basically all means, and I think you would agree, is that we are ALL WRONG.

    And it is precisely for this reason, us all being wrong, that proper orthodox Christianity teaches a way that is superior to tolerance. FORGIVENESS. 

    It is better to forgive someone than to tolerate them.

  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @TwoMan
    What is an objective observer?
    An objective observer is a hypothetical being that is utterly free of and existing independently from any possible subjective feelings, opinions and/or any prejudice; indisputable and seen identically by all possible observers; not subject to variation, change or interpretation.

    And can mathematical statements be objective?
    All data sets are sample biased.

    I might agree with you that mathematics qualifies as quanta, but quanta in isolation is axiomatically meaningless.

    All meaning is derived from qualia.


  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Mopac
    I think what you are saying that we can only be objective from a relative standpoint.This is precisely the reason that operationalism was introduced into scientific experimentation.
    But going by your very stringent standards for what actually constitutes "objective", it would seem that nothing short of God actuallly could qualify as an objective observer. Since there are more observers than God, there cannot be objectivity, because only God sees things as they are, and no one else sees things the same way.
    I'm with you generally on this so far.

    By these standards, you can't really make any statements of truth.
    Well, truth only requires facts and facts only require indisputability (consensus).  Truth does not require objectivity.

    But to get back on topic and tie this all in... what this basically all means, and I think you would agree, is that we are ALL WRONG.
    That seems like a bit of a logical leap.  Simply because we have no access to objectivity, does not make everything automatically "wrong" or "false".

    ...proper orthodox Christianity teaches a way that is superior to tolerance. FORGIVENESS.
    This sounds a bit condescending and would seem to be a case of begging the question.  Besides the fact that Christians didn't invent forgiveness.

    It is better to forgive someone than to tolerate them.
    Why would you forgive someone for having a different qualitative experience or opinion than you?
  • Mopac
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    --> @3RU7AL

    Forgiveness, even charity, is what Christians are called to do. Inventing forgiveness is not really the point, the point is that forgiveness is a better attitude than tolerance.

    We are all wrong. We have hopefully grown up since we  were younger. Even if we are "better" today, there was a time when maybe we weren't so. Even then, good as we may be today, we still all fall short. When we condemn others, we really condemn ourselves because we are guilty in our own ways, maybe even of the same things.

    So tolerating someone implies that you are putting up with them. You are still holding on to something. There is still tension. Forgiving someone implies that you are not imputing the offenses of the offender against them. You are letting go. There is no tension.


    Forgiveness comes from love. Tolerance comes from maybe a desire for peace over conflict. Charity is better than tolerance. Tolerance implies a holding on of judgement. It is like a tea pot full of water placed over a flame. 


  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Mopac
    I'm just not sure it makes sense to me to forgive someone for a difference of opinion.

    I thought the dinner was great, how did you like it?  Oh, you thought it was just "ok", well that's alright, "I forgive you".
  • Mopac
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    --> @3RU7AL
    Just as it is not charitable to make note that you are being charitable, so is it with forgiveness.




  • Mopac
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    I don't think it makess sense to tolerate or forgive someone for not thinking the food was as good as yourself, but hey. Did you cook the food? Maybe then it could be offensive.
  • Mopac
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    I believe there has to be an offense for their to be tolerance or forgiveness, not simply a difference in opinion.

    Unless differing opinions offend you... 
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Mopac
    I believe there has to be an offense for their to be tolerance or forgiveness, not simply a difference in opinion.

    Unless differing opinions offend you... 
    I'm talking about tolerating differences of opinion.
  • Mopac
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    --> @3RU7AL
    I don't see why you'd have to unless you are someone who deep down longs for the world to conform to themselves.

  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Mopac
    ...unless you are someone who deep down longs for the world to conform to themselves.
    That's the main problem.  Many if not most people like to pretend we live in a black and white world where their community values are the only possible and purely right community values.

    Most people agree on quanta.

    Most people disagree about qualia.

    People start killing each other when they confuse the one for the other.
  • Mopac
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    --> @3RU7AL
    People without forgiveness or even tolerance kill eachother.

    I don't think you know everybody well enough to make the assertions you are making, nor would I wager that you understand alll these community values.

    Besides that, if many or most people are, as you seem to imply, ignorant, it would be better to treat them with charity than to hold their ignorance against them. 




  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Mopac
    Most people agree on quanta.  This is true axiomatically.

    Quanta is scientifically measurable, quantifiable (meaningless) data.

    Most people disagree about qualia.  This is true axiomatically.

    Qualia is qualitative personal experience and (meaningful) perception.

    It is difficult to treat someone charitably if they are trying to kill you or trample your rights.
  • mustardness
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    --> @3RU7AL

    It is difficult to treat someone charitably if they are trying to kill you or trample your rights.
    1} And/or they keep reposting irrational, illogical lack of common sense statements, and offer no shred of rational, logical common sense to support if not validate their conclusions.

    2} And/or  if they keep denying obvious rational, logical common sense pathways that validate truth and invalidate non-truths/lies.


    3} And/or they refuse to address our comments as stated, or create misleading statements  that do no reflect what was actually stated.

    4} ?


  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @mustardness
    It is difficult to treat someone charitably if they are trying to kill you or trample your rights.
    1} And/or they keep reposting irrational, illogical lack of common sense statements, and offer no shred of rational, logical common sense to support if not validate their conclusions.

    2} And/or  if they keep denying obvious rational, logical common sense pathways that validate truth and invalidate non-truths/lies. 


    3} And/or they refuse to address our comments as stated, or create misleading statements  that do no reflect what was actually stated.

    4} ?
    Case in point.