Cancel culture vs. toleration: The consequences of punishing dissent

When we limit the clash of ideas, we ultimately hinder progress for the entire society.

Credit: Анатолий Шаповал via AdobeStock / Big Think
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  • Pluralism is the idea that different people, traditions, and beliefs not only can coexist together in the same society but also should coexist together because society benefits from the vibrant workshopping of ideas.
  • Cancel culture is a threat to a liberal society because it seeks to shape the available information rather than seek truth.
  • Practicing toleration for those ideas does not mean merely putting up with them but actually acknowledging the ideas with an open spirit, as Chandran Kukathas, professor at Singapore Management University, says.
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Could price gouging during a crisis actually be moral?

Price gouging is prohibited in 34 US states and Washington D.C. But two scholars ask whether that's the way it should be.

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  • Paper products, hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning wipes—all are in high demand and short supply during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Price gougers are viewed as villains in this crisis—but two scholars argue that price gouging is, in most cases, morally permissible.
  • Increased prices prevent unnecessary hoarding. Buyers purchase only what they need when they need it. Also, producers are incentivized to make more. When the supply rises, prices will fall.
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Two arguments for limited government and expanded civil society

The associations of civil society give us freedom to find systems that meet our needs.

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  • There are three subsets of civil society: primary, secondary, and tertiary associations.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology professor Lauren Hall says there are two arguments for expanding civil society and limiting the power of government, and they include elements of efficiency, morality, and coercion.
  • Ideally in civil society, secondary associations give you more freedom to meet your needs in various ways. If we relied more heavily on civil society rather than government, we'd have more wiggle room to find systems that work for us.

How does intellectual humility unlock greater knowledge?

Practicing Socratic ignorance, or avoiding certainty of our own knowledge, diminishes inequality and pushes us in our search for wisdom.

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  • Classical liberalist thinking is based on the fundamental notion that we're all equal as citizens within our governmental order. This thought lends itself to the specific principle of intellectual humility.
  • Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies, Bradley Jackson provides the definition of intellectual humility as recognition that we have imperfect knowledge of the world. If each of us remains intellectually humble, this levels us as equals.
  • Putting this into practice calls for a level of social trust, and maintaining this liberal democracy requires that we view each other as equals in these moral and political ways.
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