The Politics of Tolerance in Liberal States POLITIC4157

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the political theory and political practice of tolerance in North America and the European Union, with particular attention to the United States, Britain, France, Germany and The Netherlands.  It integrates three research traditions: applied political and social philosophy, political psychology, and empirical studies of recent and historical cases.


This course will run only in 2014-15

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Entry to Honours Politics requires a grade point average of 12 (Grade C) over Politics 2A and Politics 2B as a first attempt.

Excluded Courses





1. One essay of between 2,000-2,500 words (45% of final grade)

2. A second essay of between 2,000-2500 words (45% of final grade)

3. Oral class participation in seminar discussions and debates; where applicable (e.g. power point presentations), written material will also be submitted (10% of final grade). Adjustments and/or alternative modes of assessment will be available for students with disabilities that hinder public speaking.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No


Course Aims

The course has two goals, one normative, the other empirical. The first aims to build a philosophical foundation of principles and concepts for identifying, evaluating and responding to examples of intolerance. The second seeks to explain intolerance empirically using theories and hypotheses from several different social science disciplines. Thus, the first part of the course uses moral commentaries from John Locke to the present to organize discussions about concrete examples of intolerance and tolerance in North America and Europe. The second part examines political and psychological variables that are widely used in cross-national explanations of intolerance. We consider controversies involving: race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political ideology and multiculturalism. In the contexts of these controversies, we investigate the following topics: the assumption of "fallibilism;" the limits of toleration; challenges posed by nationalism, religious fundamentalism and political extremism; and the sources of intolerance in psychology, society and the state.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

- Recognize instances of political intolerance in liberal democratic states;

- Identify the key political, social and psychological issues involved in these instances;

- Make valid comparisons with other instances of political intolerance in their own country and abroad;

- Analyze and explain the sources of these instances of intolerance by applying macro and micro level theories;

- Evaluate the perceived justifications for the intolerance and suggest strategies for addressing it;

-Discuss such instances clearly, civilly and confidently with other citizens

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.