Thursday, 26 July 2007

Stubborn Principle

Mental vagueness and ellipsis can help a man to continue to believe in a principle that makes him believe he is tolerant. For example, a man says: “I value opinions that differ markedly from my own – but I cannot tolerate this opinion [that differs markedly from my own]”. Upon actually encountering an opinion that differs markedly from his own, he does not tolerate it, and says so, but continues to hold to the principle; for the principle did not, after all, stipulate clearly that he value all opinions that differ markedly from his own, and so he can quite happily find in practice that he never tolerates any such opinion, whilst still maintaining the belief that he does in principle.

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