Why Diversity Should Be Limitless

Chandran Kukathas

How should a free society accommodate cultural diversity? Should we tolerate the intolerable? Radical LSE political theorist Chandran Kukathas explores the tension at the heart of modern liberal society.

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    Chandran Kukathas

    Political Theorist at the London School of Economics, best known for his work on multiculturalism, liberalism and justice.


About the Course

The fight for justice is seen as the most basic struggle in our pursuit of peace on earth. But in our multicultural world where the very nature of justice is in dispute, appeals to the truth cause no more than disagreement and dissent. Do we need to give up on justice, and embrace toleration? Is toleration the true foundation of a reasonable and better society? How can we tolerate the beliefs and practices we find most abhorrent and different from our own? Should we?

LSE professor of political theory Chandran Kukathas presents his radical theory of toleration without limits.

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • What toleration consists of and when we can have it.
  • 17th century French philosopher Pierre Bayle’s argument for unlimited toleration.
  • The role that radical toleration must play in promoting a more open, true and reasonable society.
  • The limitations of the social-contract theory as a model for explaining and justifying society.
  • Why in the modern world we need to take toleration, not justice, as the governing ideal of society and political theory.
  • Where the communitarian argument for the importance of social unity and shared convictions in political philosophy goes wrong.
  • Why toleration is such a challenging ideal to achieve in our social reality.


About the Instructor

  • Chandran Kukathas

    Chandran Kukathas is a political theorist, best known for his work on multiculturalism, liberalism and his criticism of the philosophy of John Rawls. Professor Kukathas holds the Chair in Political Theory and is Head of the Department of Government at the London School of Economics. Prior to his most recent appointment, he was the Neal A. Maxwell Professor of Political Theory, Public Policy and Public Service in the Department of Political Science at the University of Utah.

    He is the author of several books, including The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom and Rawls: A Theory of Justice and Its Critics.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: The Limits of Tolerance
    Should we be tolerant no matter what we’re asked to accept? Kukathas considers the arguments for extreme toleration and shows that it must be unlimited.
  • Part Two: Rethinking Diversity
    What is the place of toleration in a multicultural world? Should we replace the social ideal of justice with the ideal of absolute toleration?