The Borg, the United Federation of Planets, and the Paradox of Tolerance

Zorra (Posted by) Level 4
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Bob Cargill shared this meme that illustrates the problem with the so-called paradox of tolerance nicely:

As you may recall, Ankur Gupta and I use precisely this illustration in our article about the need to prioritize various ethical commitments that we have. Here’s the relevant part of our article:

W - United - Federation - Planets - Vulcan

[W]hen the United Federation of Planets claims to embrace the Vulcan ideology of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, and yet fights against the Borg, it is not showing that inclusivity is an inherently flawed and self-contradictory principle. Rather, it is merely another example of the fact that entities must choose between values we subscribe to and prioritize some of them over others. In this instance, commitment to diversity and inclusion requires resistance against a force that seeks to assimilate intelligent living things in all their diverse forms into their homogeneous collective.

This last example is analogous to the cases currently confronting universities as they navigate commitments to both uncensored free expression and the defense of historically marginalized voices. Hate speech creates a situation in which one must choose between these commitments. If one elevates allowing all to voice their opinion to the highest place, then some will use that liberty to seek to scare and bully others into silence. If one prioritizes defending small or otherwise vulnerable groups from being silenced through intimidation in this way, the university will have to silence others. Most universities would ideally like to do both, to value both equally, but it simply isn’t possible in all circumstances. One may also usefully relate this same basic point to the issues that come up surrounding religiously-affiliated educational institutions, in which a commitment to academic freedom may take second place to a requirement that faculty...
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