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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access June 10, 2016

Tolerance or Recognition? What Can We Expect?

  • Olli-Pekka Vainio and Aku Visala
From the journal Open Theology


The last two decades have seen the (re)emergence of the concept of recognition in ethical and political theory. Oftentimes, recognition is seen as a deeper, more developed version of tolerance, without the problems that tolerance purportedly has. We should not “merely” tolerate different individuals, identities and cultures, but recognize them, or so the argument goes. This move from tolerance to recognition is not without its critics. We will outline some of these criticisms and address them with the resources provided by the theory of recognition. We will suggest that while some of the criticisms are unfounded, the move from tolerance to recognition has a number of problems that the critics have correctly pointed out. The relationship between tolerance and recognition is complex: both have their own aims and functions. We will suggest that there are cases–especially ones that involve deep moral disagreements–where tolerance is a more reasonable aim than recognition.


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Received: 2016-1-28
Accepted: 2016-4-11
Published Online: 2016-6-10

©2016 Olli-Pekka Vainio, Aku Visala

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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