Toleration, Liberalism and Democracy: A Comment on Leader and Garzón Valdés



Leader and Garzón Valdés are correct to link toleration to democracy rather than liberalism. However, it is the democratic character of society and the process of democratic decision-making that give rise to a genuine practice of tolerance, not an abstract and regulative ideal of democracy, such as they appeal to. Whereas the latter approach collapses into the standard liberal accounts of toleration both rightly find wanting, the former fits with a republican notion of deliberative democracy. This perspective corresponds to the circumstances of toleration and promotes tolerance as a virtue that is intrinsic both to the nature of democratic debate and to the securing of uncoerced agreement amongst people possessing different beliefs and values. As such, it proves more compatible with pluralism, and hence with toleration, than liberalism.