CRF Blog

Does Democracy Demand the Tolerance of the Intolerant?

by Bill Hayes

In Does Democracy Demand the Tolerance of the Intolerant?, Open Culture examines political philosopher Karl Popper’s take on this question.

According to virtually every conception of liberal democracy, a free and open society requires tense debate and verbal conflict. Society, the argument goes, is only strengthened by the oft-contentious interplay of differing, even intolerant, points of view. So, when do such views approach the limits of toleration? One of the most well-known paradoxes of tolerance was outlined by Austrian philosopher Karl Popper in his 1945 book The Open Society and Its Enemies.