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Without Normative Behavior, There can be no Tolerance

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/21/2019 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 599 times Debate No: 119980
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
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The accusation of "Intolerant! " seems very common nowadays. Have you ever called someone intolerant? If so, Then this debate is for you. Please tell me about the experience in the debate. Have you ever been called intolerant? If so, Then you should follow this debate.

=== Definitions ===
Normative Behavior = an expansive moral evaluation of human behaviors, Labeling some as GOOD, Others as BAD, And (perhaps) others as NEUTRAL
Tolerance = the ability to endure behaviors (and associated opinions) that you label as BAD
GOOD = a moral evaluation that a behavior is positive (and should be encouraged)
BAD = a moral evaluation that a behavior is negative (and should be discouraged)
NEUTRAL = a moral evaluation that a behavior is neither positive nor negative (and does not need to be encouraged or discouraged)

=== My Opening Argument ===
1 --- Anatomy of an Accusation ---
As far as I can tell, Here is the thinking behind accusing someone of "intolerance":
--- 1a --- A person publicly states that he considers an activity to be BAD and that we should discourage it
--- 1b --- Someone else accuses that person of being intolerant

There are two flavors on the flip side of the accusation:
--- 1c --- The accuser considers the denounced activity to be GOOD
--- 1d --- The accuser considers the denounced activity to be NEUTRAL

2 --- Examples of "Intolerant! " ---
To make this more concrete, I will provide a few examples. In all the examples, Brad feels something is BAD and states his opinion publicly. In some examples, George thinks the thing is GOOD, So he calls Brad intolerant. In other examples, Nancy thinks the thing is NEUTRAL, So she calls Brad intolerant.

--- 2a --- Should Felons be allowed to vote?
Brad says, "We should not let Felons vote. "
George says, "Brad is intolerant! "

--- 2b --- Should the USA allow unlimited immigration?
Brad says, "We should make immigration work for our country--not for the immigrants. "
Nancy says, "Brad is intolerant! "

--- 2c --- Should gay people be allowed to marry?
Brad says, "We should preserve the traditional definition of marriage. "
George says, "Brad is intolerant! "

--- 2d --- Should minorities be given extra points in college admissions?
Brad says, "We should eliminate Affirmative Action. "
Nancy says, "Brad is intolerant! "

--- 2e --- Should abortion be legal?
Brad says, "Abortion should be illegal. "
George says, "Brad is intolerant! "

3 --- Evaluations: Who is "tolerant" ---

--- Brad: Unknown tolerance ---
Merely stating his opinion on something does not make Brad intolerant. It is how well he endures the disapproved behavior that determines his tolerance. Until we see Brad's reaction to the final policies put in place, It is not clear whether he is tolerant or intolerant in any of these examples.

--- George: Not tolerant ---
George is not being tolerant of anything in any of these examples. It is impossible to "tolerate" something you think is GOOD. Until George thinks something is BAD, He cannot tolerate it.

Lucky for us, George labels Brad's opinions as BAD. So, How well does he endure these BAD opinions? --Not too well. George accuses Brad of intolerance, Which means that George resorts to name-calling and silencing in the face of what he labels BAD. It seems clear that George is intolerant of Brad's opinions and of Brad's right to express them.

In many cases, The Georges of the world go on to harass the Brads of the world. Boycotting businesses, Intimidating advertisers, Picketing at homes, And threatening personal harm are examples of intolerance.

--- Nancy: Not tolerant ---
Nancy is not being tolerant of anything in any of these examples. It is impossible to "tolerate" something you think is NEUTRAL. Until Nancy thinks something is BAD, She cannot tolerate it.

Lucky for us, Nancy labels Brad's opinions as BAD. So, How well does she endure these BAD opinions? --Not too well. Nancy accuses Brad of intolerance, Which means that Nancy resorts to name-calling and silencing in the face of what she labels BAD. It seems clear that Nancy is intolerant of Brad's opinions and of Brad's right to express them.

4 --- Summary ---
All opinions are a reflection of a person's idea of normative behavior. People are allowed to express their opinions in the public square. Expressing opinions is what the public square is for and so it is never "intolerant. "

On the contrary, Attempting to silence people within the public square is a demonstration of intolerance.

Outside the public square, When people go on to boycott a business, Intimidate an advertiser, Picket at a home, Threaten personal harm, Etc. , We can know they are intolerant of behaviors they consider BAD.

5 --- Conclusion ---
Supporting things we think are GOOD is not tolerance, It is agreement. Allowing things we think are NEUTRAL is not tolerance, It is indifference. Enduring things we think are BAD is the only path to tolerance.


A dog bites me. It is a bad dog. I tolerate it regardless and pet it and calm it down and teach it not to bite people.

This tolerance exists regardless of normative behaviour, As you've qualified normative behavior as "an expansive moral evaluation of human behaviors", Dogs aren't human and you have no condition that the behaviour needs to be human to qualify as bad so as long as it doesn't come from normative reasoning (in this case an inbuilt physiological response to pain) I can label a dog's actions bad from sources other than normative behaviour.
Debate Round No. 1


Ha ha ha ha, No I did not anticipate this line of attack. Nevertheless, My argument and my thesis both survive the challenge.

1 === Definitions ===
I began the definitions section with normative behavior, Which included the "human" constraint on behaviors that you cite. Each subsequent definition reuses the term "behavior. " It is obvious that all these reuses are similarly constrained.

My definition of tolerance has a second implication of the human constraint: reference to "associated opinions. " Inasmuch as "opinion" is a function unique to humans, This reflects a further human basis in my definition of tolerance at least.

2 === Dog Bite ===
You say that you achieve tolerance without normative behavior in your dog example because the dog is not human. In keeping with your obtuse reading of the definitions, You neither have normative behavior nor tolerance, Because they are both human-constrained.

You also made an effort to avoid normative behavior thru a non-reasoning justification for calling the dog bite BAD. You employed a thoughtless prejudgment that "inbuilt physiological response to pain" will always result in a label of BAD. This is not clear to me, As there are countless examples of pain that are labeled as GOOD or NEUTRAL. Even with regard to dog bites, There are certainly some people who approve of dog bites (for example to ward off attackers).

I counter further that I never required "reason" in forming the norms. Since when are people's moral judgments based on reason, Logic, Or thinking at all? The key is not how much thought is put into the labeling of behaviors. The key is that they have been labeled. You labeled the dog bite as BAD, So you have established normative (albeit non-human) behavior.

Therefore, My argument survives the challenge.

3 === Necessary but not Sufficient ===
A corollary to my thesis is that normative behavior is necessary but not sufficient to achieve tolerance. Even if you establish normative behavior, It does not guarantee tolerance. There are really 3 steps required to achieve tolerance:

--- 3a --- normative behavior must be established
--- 3b --- a person must be confronted with a behavior labeled BAD within the norms
--- 3c --- the person must "endure" (yes, This kind of tolerance is another function unique to humans)

If 3a is skipped, There can be no tolerance. If step 3b is replaced by a behavior that is labeled GOOD or NEUTRAL, There can be no tolerance. If step 3c is skipped, There is no tolerance, Because the BAD behavior was not endured.

Only when all three are in place, Can tolerance been achieved.

4 === Dog Bite Revisited ===
Let us see the results when we reexamine your scenario without your obtuse reading (leaving the human constraint behind), And with the corollary.

--- 4a --- you have established normative behavior, In which dog bites are BAD
--- 4b --- you were the recipient of a dog bite
--- 4c --- you pet, Calmed, And taught the dog (sounds like enduring well to me)

Congratulations, You achieved tolerance! But at the cost of a normative evaluation.

Therefore, My thesis also survives the challenge.

5 === A Special Case ===
It is worth noting a special case characterized by labeling every behavior as NUETRAL. Many people think they are exceptionally tolerant when they adopt this Special Case, Because they call it a rejection of normative behavior. But they are NOT tolerant at all for two simple reasons.

--- 5a --- In this Special Case, Step 3b can never occur, Because there are no BAD behaviors in it.
--- 5b --- Let us review the characteristics of "normative behavior. " The definition requires labels of GOOD and BAD; labels of NUETRAL are merely allowed. In other words, An all-encompassing evaluation of NEUTRAL does not really qualify as normative behavior. Therefore, Neither step 3a, 3b, Nor 3c can be achieved in this Special Case.

This proves my thesis (again) in reverse.


Overhead forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


If you feel that everything is permissible, You are not increasing your tolerance--you are eliminating it.

Likely, You still feel some things are BAD, And you are likely to be fairly intolerant of those things.


Overhead forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by K_Michael_Tolman 3 years ago
in 3a, You say "normative behavior must be established"
This is using your claim to support your claim. You state that normative behavior is necessary to be tolerant or intolerant. I'm not saying that your claim is wrong- I support it -but that is improper reasoning.
Posted by K_Michael_Tolman 3 years ago
. . . Countries have made the change from slavery to abolitionist without civil war or intense feelings of hatred toward those holding the opposing view. Now that I think about it, The U. S. Has always been one for variances in normative behavior. I don't know what it indicates, But perhaps it's just because we're the loudest about our opinions.

These are all my views, And not really based on research. However, I would like you to take them seriously. I put a lot of effort into all of that writing, And I hope it makes sense to you.
Posted by K_Michael_Tolman 3 years ago
Normative behaviour is how humans as a society determine whether something is good, Bad, Or neutral. They do depend on circumstances. For instance, It is generally considered bad to cut someone open. However, If it a surgery to save that person's life, Then it is good. An action's morality is associated with circumstances, Which is why we judge a child or animal differently from a rational adult.
Normative behavior is not absolute. In some tribes, It was considered acceptable to eat the hearts of your enemies. Today, In modern society, That would be a criminal act. In Jerusalem around the time of Jesus, (I'm not going to bring religion into this, Honest) it was acceptable to stone an adulterous woman to death. Now that is considered wrong. Normative behavior is influenced by religion, But differs as well. Two Christians might be pro-wall, And anti-wall.
@Overhead You were just being nitpicky about the wording of her definition. Psychology and behavioral studies mainly focus on intraspecific relationships. Our morals regarding different animals is a highly variable and fluctuating thing between each individual.
Moreover, As to intolerance, That is due to one of the variances in normative behavior within a culture. If a person or a small group of individuals has a contrasting moral view to the rest of society, (such as cannibalism being acceptable) their perceived morals and resulting behaviors are not normative. They are usually regarded as anomalies, Generally receiving diagnoses of sociopathic tendencies or other mental instabilities. But when a major group of people, Such as those who believe in abortion as opposed to the previous beliefs of their culture, They are considered a change in the societal normative behavior. Whether the previous belief or the old will win out is unsure, But generally speaking, A major shift occurs in one or the other's favor within the next century or so. The view on slavery in the U. S. Is an extreme case, As many other (cont. ^)
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