Een onderzoek naar tolerantie bij J. Locke en J.S. Mill
Stuijvenberg, Wim van
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In this paper an investigation has been made to toleration. The purpose is to find out how two great thinkers of toleration can be of use for today’s situation. These thinkers are John Locke and John Stuart Mill. In the introductory first chapter a description of toleration and its components is given. Components are: objection, acceptance and rejection. Then the paradoxes of toleration are mentioned and briefly explained. In the second chapter an investigation is made to John Locke. Locke’s opinion upon toleration is described conform his classical work: A Letter Concerning Toleration. An analysis is made of the argumentation in this letter. Locke wants to separate church and state. It can be concluded that citizens should have a religious foundation of their morality. Locke cannot accept catholics (they consider the church as an authority besides the state) nor atheists as they do not accept the existence of a higher being named God. Locke is in general more concerned about freedom of religion instead of toleration. Note that toleration is viewed as it is seen today! In the third chapter John Stuart Mill is discussed. Mill, as a founder of today’s liberalism, proclaims a total freedom of the individual. Society is only permitted to intervene when harm is brought to fellow citizens. Mill considers individuality as the primary condition to have a society developed. Mill is aware of a possible danger viz the mediocrity of the masses which in general believe that they have the correct - moral - opinion. All opinions can be true or at least contain a truth to a certain extend. Therefore we have to accept discussions about all possible themes. Freedom of opinion is what Mill stands for. In the concluding fourth chapter there is made a comparison between Locke and Mill. Although Locke’s view can be considered as a breakthrough in thinking upon toleration his concept is not acceptable for today’s situation. Religion and state are already separated in Western society. Mills opinion about toleration is more applicable to the actual situation. Nevertheless some critical remarks should be made. For instance the harm principle, the great influence of individuality and finally the lack of respect or esteem as a component of toleration. Authority in Mills opinion has too limited a function in his concept. Today’s mass society and the globalisation require an attitude in which citizens are well aware of their own - relative (as relation and related to others) - position in which toleration is required for all of us.