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Should civil tolerance be extended to groups whose programs and ideologies pursue and advocate the abrogation of individual rights? If so, what are the limits of such civil tolerance? Would being in a state of war change these limits?

asked Sep 18 '13 at 12:24

c_andrew's gravatar image

c_andrew ♦
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edited Sep 18 '13 at 12:26


I would be interested to know more about the origin and meaning of the expression, "civil toleration." The question so far hasn't offered a definition of it, and my own understanding of it is extremely vague. It seems to blur the distinction between non-violent, private dealings between people versus direct violence against others, i.e., the distinctions that Objectivism strongly emphasizes between trade and force, politics and ethics, justice and charitability, political power and economic power, etc. (I've been told in the past that this expression, or something very similar, may be culturally prominent in the U.S. today in the Southern states, possibly going back to the lifestyle of the white gentry in the plantation era, but I don't have further confirmation of such a connection so far, and the wording of the question doesn't provide any discernible clues about where the questioner may have heard of it. So I remain merely curious as to its origin.)

In Objectivism, the basic principle for evaluating others and dealing with them is justice (including trade as an aspect of it). Objectivism then judges expressions like "civil toleration" by that standard, insofar as such expressions have a clearly defined meaning at all. To the extent that they are unclear, Objectivism evaluates such expressions by epistemological standards, and especially rejects expressions and concepts that blur essential distinctions or are too open to conflicting interpretations. For further discussion of various possible interpretations of "toleration," refer to that topic in Wikipedia.

answered Sep 19 '13 at 22:11

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: Sep 18 '13 at 12:24

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Last updated: Sep 19 '13 at 22:11