Tolerance, while proving necessary in today's varied world, can be grudgingly given and resentfully received. Toleration may be necessary, but it has little appeal, and certainly cannot serve as either a central or unifying doctrine in a thriving moral or political philosophy. A deeper understanding of what tolerance requires leads us to see that it demands more. Once we inculcate the attitude of tolerance in ourselves and our politics, tolerance can occupy the difficult and contested. It does not make sense, for instance, if we already fully accept a practice; nor does it make sense if what we are asked to tolerate is "intolerable:" we appeal to those inclined to be intolerant to soften their judgement, to grant that what they disapprove can, and should be, permitted. What needs to be done is to show how tolerance is rooted in an appealing moral and political theory. Only then will toleration move beyond either simple expediency or grudging forbearance.
The concept of tolerance is central to a range of pressing issues in value theory and cultural studies. When setting out his distinctive and original liberal treatment of it, Oberdiek articulates philosophical challenges with which anyone in the human studies will need to grapple. Any subsequent study of the concept of tolerance will have to come to terms with Oberdiek's careful and insightful analysis. This is required reading for both professionals and students.--Michael Krausz, Bryn Mawr College