Should there be limits to tolerance

Cultural education

Michael Quante, Professor of Philosophy and co-editor of the Marx Handbook, spoke at the conference on a subject that was only partially Marxist. He asked about the limits of tolerance and presented his concept of fallibilism in a discussion with Herbert Marcuse.

Michael Quante (& copy Ast / Juergens)
Right at the beginning of his lecture, Michael Quante rejected the "controversy" with Andreas Urs Sommer advertised in the program. It is obvious that values ​​are not things, and so turned to the topic of his lecture. Arguing from his biography, he explained the contexts in which he himself came into contact with the limits of tolerance. In particular, he highlighted his work in biomedical ethics, where he met fundamentalists of all stripes, and the work on building a campus of religions.

What is tolerance?

Furthermore, Quante gave a minimum definition of tolerance. Tolerance is the toleration of something that is normatively considered to be wrong. This implies that someone who does not consider anything normatively wrong cannot tolerate anything either - a consideration that is incompatible with pure relativism.

Divergent concepts could be understood by tolerance. Firstly, it could mean that the cost of combating it is too high or that the proportionality of the means is not guaranteed. Second, tolerance can be based on fallibilism or pluralism. The former means the position that there is no absolute certainty, while the latter means that one is of the opinion that there are reasons for other positions as well. However, this also means that other positions must be endured and there is no indifference. This second concept of tolerance has an ethical component or is ethically relevant. Thirdly, Quante named the "anti-missionary attitude of the man overhanging" - what is meant is a position that, against his better judgment, does not want to give instruction. The problem is that this attitude does not take the other person seriously and includes an allegation of dishonesty, a kind of suspicion hermeneutics. Fourth, it can sometimes be better to tolerate something if the consequential burden is too high.

Where are the limits?

Where are the limits of this tolerance and are there any? Yes, there are limits, whereby pluralistic or fallibilistic thinking people in particular have to take into account the danger of intolerance. In the context of one's own integrity of the self, however, one is not forced to accept everything - one could speak of individual ethical limits.

Autonomy, plurality and fallibility formed the basis of peaceful coexistence in a democracy. To give a further approximation of the theory of democracy, Quante added the text "Repressive Toleranz" by Herbert Marcuse, which had a great influence on the student movements of the 1960s. Marcuse states that a prescribed tolerance, which has become a kind of partisan goal, only allows criticism within the given limits and thus levels out fundamental criticism of the system. The view of the truth is blocked and utopian thinking is driven away. Quante asked how radical criticism should be made at all. It shows once again that we have to endure other positions and not exclude them (as in the current media discourse, for example, when certain representatives are not given a stage). Marcuse's idea that tolerance comes at the expense of truth is what Quante believes is wrong, especially with regard to fallibilism. People should be brought up to be democrats and still be respected or endured in their self.

The position of an "anti-missionary overstay" leads to people orienting themselves towards the "missionaries". Quante told the bpb that he considered the fallibilism thesis to be less dangerous than the universalism thesis. Something does not have to be universally justified in order to be valid; rather, one should accept everything until it has not been criticized with good reason. You don't need evidence from the outside world to believe that a car is approaching you. The mistrust should rather be placed in the compulsion to justify, with the consequence that it could also be that this is a chimera and that this is a wrong position.

by Simon Clemens