Toleration classically denotes a relation between two agents that is characterised by three components: objection, power, and acceptance overriding the objection. Against recent claims that classical toleration is not applicable in liberal democracies and that toleration must therefore either be understood purely attitudinally or purely politically, we argue that the components of classical toleration are crucial elements of contemporary cases of minority accommodation. The concept of toleration is applicable to, and is an important element of descriptions of such cases, provided that one views them as wholes, rather than as sets of isolated relations. We explain this by showing how certain cases of toleration are multi-dimensional and how the descriptive concept of toleration might be understood intersectionally. We exemplify this by drawing on case studies of mosque controversies in Germany and Denmark. Finally, we propose that intersectionality is not only relevant to the descriptive concept of toleration but also captures an important aspect of normative theories of toleration. We illustrate this by discussing ideals of respect-based toleration, which we also apply to the case studies.
Journal of Applied Philosophy, 2013, Vol 30, Issue 3