Liberal Tolerance for an Intolerant Age

Issue Date April 2024
Volume 35
Issue 2
Page Numbers 163–167
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In agreement with Bryan Garsten’s notion of liberalism as “refuge,” liberal societies are distinct in their toleration of badness. They give people the permission and even the right to do wrong. Tolerance, however, does not apply to that to which we are indifferent or to that which we approve of. True tolerance involves the refusal to police bad or defective behaviors, and it therefore makes liberal political movements inherently fragile. Even so, tolerance and “refuge” are essential because people, especially the powerful, cannot be trusted to police the right people, on the right occasions, with the right force.

About the Author

Jason Brennan is the Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and editor of Public Affairs Quarterly. He is the author (with Richard Arneson) of Debating Capitalism (2024) and (with Samuel Freeman) of Debating Libertarianism: What Makes Institutions Just? (2024).

View all work by Jason Brennan