Toleration, respect and recognition in Northern Ireland
in Tolerance and diversity in Ireland, North and South
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This chapter defends the ongoing value of toleration for the construction of a shared future for a divided society like Northern Ireland. The device of toleration as a tool for coping with social diversity has been challenged on the grounds that it embodies undesirably negative attitudes to minority practices and inequalities of social and political power. It is argued, however, that the proposed alternative, typically characterized as a form of positive recognition, fails to come to terms with the complex nature of struggles for recognition within a society like Northern Ireland. The demand for some forms of cultural recognition pose a direct challenge to equality on the one hand, while, on the other hand, the relationship between those who seek recognition and those who claim the authority to grant recognition also reflects an underlying inequality. Following a brief exploration of the sorts of recognition struggles evident within Northern Ireland, a model of equal respect, grounding both toleration and civility, is defended as the most desirable and realistic basis for a shared future for citizens of divided societies.

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