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Re: physical versus economic force

Administrative Note:

Week's Agenda: Economy

Clearly, I have taken a position that hasn't come across well with at 
least a few of you. So, as proposed by Antony, I suggest we step back 
and organize this debate first. 

Perhaps we can start by asking ourselves why we agree that tolerance is 
a virtue. We seem to have accepted a priori that it is and proceded from 
there, and might have missed something in the process. So here's the 
first question from me:

Why should a person of any one faith tolerate the expression of other 
faiths? If I believe in a God who demands perfect compliance with His 
plan, which may include eliminating those with non-conformist views, why 
should I accept that social norms must constrain my behavior more than 
submission to the will of my God? Why should I not go about chopping off 
the heads of others who don't believe the things I do?

My answer: I should be tolerant of those with other opinions because (a) 
I cannot rationally show my own opinions to be true, and (b) affording 
another person's opinion this freedom protects my own, if he in turn 
will give me the same benefit. I.e., I have no way of proving that my 
God did any of the miracles he is stated to have, or dispriving that 
other gods did not. Also, as long as I let others be, I can reasonably 
expect to be let alone. If I build mutual acceptance of this position, 
tolerance is perpetuated in society, and in that tolerance I find 

Along this line of thinking, if I were to attempt to alter another's 
opinion by the use of any kind of force (and even those of you with 
opinions contrary to mine accept that economic force is just as real), I 
would begin to break down the live and let live notions that grant me my 
own freedom. 

The analogies to socialism or capitalism are poor, because they fail the 
first test I put up, that their value can be expressed in economic 
terms, and the purposes to be achieved by them can be debated 
rationally. I.e., if I feel that income distribution is less equitable 
in capitalist socieities, it is perfectly testable, not just by me but 
by anyone. And (to a large degree) the results we arrive at will not be 
a function of our selves (without biases, this would be true, which is 
what it means to be rational).

Does anyone else have ideas on why individuals in society must tolerate 
those of other faiths?


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