Tolerance: A Philosophical Investigation


WHEN November 4-25, 2020
WHERE Zoom Webinar WHO NYU Abu Dhabi Institute By Invitation Interested scholars please contact


In late 2018 the leaders of the UAE declared that 2019 would be the “Year of Tolerance.” The year certainly lived up to its name, having seen the visit of Pope Francis and the laying of the foundation stone of the UAE’s first traditional Hindu temple. Amid the various celebrations of coexistence, however, there was relatively little discussion of the underlying idea.

What is tolerance, and why is it a good thing? The answers to these questions may seem obvious: for those of us already invested in peaceful coexistence with members of different religions, the benefits of tolerance are clear. But what about people who are not yet committed to coexistence? Are there defenses of tolerance that even people who reject the idea that all religions are equally valid or valuable might find compelling?

Can we, in other words, find arguments for tolerance that speak to fundamentalists? If not, can we nevertheless organize society in a genuinely tolerant manner without thereby being intolerant of more traditional or conservative ways of life?

NOVEMBER 4        4PM -5:30PM
What is tolerance, and why is it hard?

NOVEMBER 11        4PM -5:30PM
Why would a committed religious believer tolerate
religious views he or she takes to be false or misguided?

NOVEMBER 18       4PM -5:30PM
Should the government seek to be neutral with
respect to different religions?

NOVEMBER 25       4PM -5:30PM
Is it possible for the government to be neutral with
respect to different religions or ways of life?

Convened by
  • Matthew Silverstein, NYUAD

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