Philosophy now: tolerance and toleration

Ref: C2337524

British society is often regarded as one of the most tolerant in the world. In the last few decades however tension has been growing in public debate between those who advocate greater tolerance of differences in beliefs and actions, and those for whom tolerance has ‘gone too far’. The course is an opportunity to stand back from the sometimes heated current debates and reflect on the meaning, limits and aims of toleration.

Course aim

To introduce students to different conceptions of tolerance and give them the opportunity to express and examine their own ideas about tolerance

Who is the course for?

anyone interested – no previous experience of Philosophy expected

What topics will this course cover

1. How tolerant are you ? Exploring your own attitudes to tolerance with help of a philosophical questionnaire 2. The concept of toleration 3. Reflection on differences between the conceptual analyses presented and students’ understanding of tolerance 4. A history of the idea of toleration 5. Four current conceptions of toleration – and application to examples 6. review and evaluation

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

As a result of the course, you should be able to 1. indicate how tolerant you are and your reasons for your responses 2. give a definition of toleration 3. name the key features of the four current conceptions of toleration and give examples of each 4. indicate any changes in your understanding of tolerance and toleration as a result of the course

How will I know I'm making progress?

Through the Individual Learning Plans; regular informal feedback from the tutor on progress and how to expand knowledge and skills; Q&A sessions in which students will be invited to extend an argument, explain a concept etc

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

No prior knowledge expected (although always welcome). Just bring what you need in order to make some notes (pen, paper and/or electronic device) and a willingness to consider different ideas including ones you disagree with.

Reading and information sources

Not expected – suggestion for further study : articles on toleration in the online Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy or the online Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

What could the course lead to?

further WEA Philosophy courses the Open University’s openlearn online courses a MOOG (online courses – free unless taken for accreditation – some are very demanding indeed)

Download full course outline

Philosophy now: tolerance and toleration Course Outline


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  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
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