Care theorists have yet to outline an account of how the concept of toleration should function in their normative framework. This lack of outline is a notable gap in the literature, particularly for demonstrating whether care ethics can appropriately address cases of moral disagreement within contemporary pluralistic societies; in other words, does care ethics have the conceptual resources to recognize the disapproval that is inherent in an act of toleration while simultaneously upholding the positive values of care without contradiction? By engaging care ethics with John Locke’s (1632–1704) influential corpus on toleration, I answer the above question by building the bases for a novel theory of toleration as care
. Specifically, I argue that care theorists can home in on an oft-overlooked aspect of Locke’s later thought: that the possibility of a tolerant society is dependent on a societal ethos of trustworthiness and civility, to the point where Locke sets out positive ethical demands on both persons and the state to ensure this ethos can grow and be sustained. By leveraging and augmenting Locke’s thought within the care ethical framework, I clarify how care ethics can provide meaningful solutions to moral disagreement within contemporary pluralistic societies in ways preferable to the capability of a liberal state.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.