The tolerant society

Webster University Leiden

Intensive Summer course 2002  (June 24 – July 5)

ANSO 2000: Issues in contemporary society
Cross listed with: PHIL 2000: Contemporary moral problems


Instructor: Dr Gijs van Oenen (Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Course Definition (source: Webster University Undergraduate Catalogue)
Acquaints the student with the various social and cultural issues of contemporary societies.  Centers around concerns of living in industrialized urban societies.  Compares complex societies to gain an understanding of issues that confront their members.  Topics vary each semester.  May be repeated for credit if content differs.

Course Content
The course will deal with many aspects of social and cultural tolerance, paying attention to both theoretical and practical dimensions. It also attempts to provide a comparative U.S./Dutch perspective. General socio-philosophical Issues to be discussed include: socio-philosophical views of tolerance; historical dimensions of religious and political tolerance; the moral-psychological aspects of tolerance (attitudes, prejudices); socio-legal aspects (discrimination, multiculturalism). Practical issues and problems to be discussed include: practice and policy regaring drugs, pornography, prostitution, euthanasia, policing, adjudication, and illegal residence. Special attention will be given to typically Dutch arrangements, such as the unique policy of ‘gedogen’, the deliberate law enforcement of law.  There will be several guest lecturers, as well as field trips.

What Students Will Learn During the Course
How to understand and analyze problems, policies and practices regarding social tolerance, both from a personal and an institutional perspective.

Required Material
Michael Walzer, On Toleration. Yale university press 1997 (about US$10)
A reader of other texts will be provided.

Recommended Reading Material
Muhammad Ali, Nigel Barley a..o., The end of tolerance? Nicholas Brealey publishing, London, 2002 [collection of short, accessible essays from a wide variety of authors, working in both the public and the private sector, on the subject of tolerance. NB: “Post-911”!]
Léon Deben a.o. (eds.), Understanding Amsterdam. Essays on economic vitality, city life and urban form. Amsterdam University Press, 2000 [A collection of essays by sociologists and anthropologists on city life, esp in Amsterdam, also containing many comparative links to the life of/in American cities]
Avishai Margalit, The decent society. Harvard University Press (Cambridge, Mass.) 1996 [a socio-philosophical view on the social and institutional conditions of a ‘decent society’, profound but written in an accessible style almost free of jargon.
NB: Some articles or chapters from these works are also included in the course reader.

Guest Speakers
Among the invited guest lecturers are:
Laura Gioscia (Ph.D. 2000, University Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro), professor of political philosophy, Institute for Political Science, Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay.
Paul van den Berg (M.A. 1986), lecturer in ethics, Rijswijk Polytechnic, The Hague.
Hermine Wiersinga (LL.M., 1987, University of Amsterdam; Ph.D. 2002, Leiden University), assistant professor of criminal law, Leiden University School of Law.
Guus Meershoek (M.A. 1986; Ph.D. 2000, University of Amsterdam), senior researcher, Institute for Police Studies, Twente University
Peter van Krieken, senior advisor at the Ministry of Justice and professor of international relations, Webster University

The course schedule:

Monday, June 24 2002 Time: 10:00 – 13:00
Lesson 1 Morning: Getting acquainted; introduction to the course; general introductory lecture on tolerance; further course arrangements
Afternoon off: (providing a chance to get acquainted with computer facilities and other arrangements in and around Webster.)
Prepare for this session Economist survey +
Walzer, On Toleration, pp. 1-13

Tuesday, June 25 2002 Time: 10:00 – 17:00
Lesson 2 Morning: lecture on philosophical and historical aspects of toleration. Guest lecture by Dr.Frans Bouwen.
Afternoon:  discussion on Dutch drugs policy. Video showing.
Late afternoon: visist to coffeeshop, in Leiden or Amsterdam
Prepare for  this session Walzer, pp. 14-36; and Edward Soja, ‘The stimulus of a little confusion’ (in Understanding Amsterdam, pp. 117-141)

Wednesday, June 26 2002 Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Lesson 3 Morning: perspectives on tolerance from political science and sociology
Afternoon: guest lecture on pornography and freedom of speech by Dr. Laura Gioscia
Prepare for this session Walzer, chapter 4 (pp. 52-82)

Thursday, June 27 2002 Time: 10:00 – 17:00
Lesson 4 Morning: guest lecture by Monika Smit
Afternoon: visit to Prostitution Information Center.
Prepare: Brants, ‘The fine art of regulated tolerance’

Friday, June 28 2002 Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Lesson 5 Morning: lecture and discussion on multicultural citizenship. Guest lecturer: Paul van den Berg
Afternoon: off
Prepare for this session Walzer, epilogue (pp. 93-112); and Margalit, chs.  9 and 10 (pp. 150-186)

Monday, July 1 2002 Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Lesson 6  Morning: gedogen, or: the deliberate lax enforcement of law
Afternoon: guest lecture on criminal law culture, by Dr. Hermine Wiersinga
Prepare for this session Jonathan Rauch, ‘Courting danger’

Tuesday, July 2 2002 Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Lesson 7 Theory and practice of police work in the Netherlands (and the USA)
Guest lectures by police officer Jeroen Obdam (LL.M.), and by Dr. Guus Meershoek
Prepare for this session Bernard Harcourt, ‘Policing disorder’; and Loïc Wacquant, ‘Deadly symbiosis’.

Wednesday, July 3 2002 Time: 10:00 – 18:00
Lesson 8 Morning or afternoon: guest lecture by Michiel Noordzij.
Discussion on the uses and disuses of public space and its impact on urban attitudes, e.g. tolerance, aggression.
Late afternoon and evening: visit to an alternative socio-political community in Leiden (possibility for dinner)
Prepare for this session Lyn Hofland, ‘Urbanity, tolerance and public space’ (in Understanding Amsterdam, pp. 146-160)
Abramson, ‘Ideals of democratic justice’  (in End of Tolerance, pp. 98-109)

Thursday, July 4 2002
No lectures. Time off to prepare/finish your ‘philosophical diary’ (to be emailed BEFORE 5 PM to
Prepare for this session No readings for today.

Friday, July 5 2002 Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Lesson 10 Morning: guest lecture and discussion on illegal residence, with Prof. Peter van Krieken
Afternoon: evaluation, announcement of grades, goodbyes.
Prepare for this session No texts to read for today

Additional Information On The Course:

Preliminary list of the literature to be read for the course:

Michael Walzer,  On Toleration. Yale university press 1998.  [ca 100 pp.]

Edward Soja, ‘The stimulus of a little confusion’; in: Léon Deben a.o. (eds.), Understanding Amsterdam; Amsterdam University press 2000, pp. 117-141

Lyn Hofland, ‘Urbanity, tolerance and public space’, in: Understanding Amsterdam, pp. 146-160

Avishai Margalit. The decent society. Harvard university press 1996, pp. 150-186

Jonathan Rauch, Courting danger. A Bradley lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, December 11, 2000.

Bernard Harcourt, ‘Policing disorder. Can we reduce serious crime by punishing petty offenses?’, in Boston Review, april/may 2002, pp. 16-22

Loïc Wacquant, ‘Deadly symbiosis. Rethinking race and imprisonment’. In: Boston Review, april/may 2002,  pp. 23-31.

Jeffrey Abramson, ‘Ideals of democratic justice’, in: The end of tolerance? (edited for the Alfred Herrhausen society for international dialogue), Nicholas Brealy publishing, London 2002, pp. 98-109

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