As I watched the news last night, I heard the disturbing story of a dead baby that was discovered in a dumpster at the Eastgate Shopping Mall in Wichita. This story reminded me of an incident in October of 2010 when a live baby was found in a dumpster in Emporia.
How should society react to events such as these? Has there been a violation or transgression of some standard, moral, or ethic?
It seems that whenever morals and ethics are called into question, people today call for tolerance. My questions is this: How can we determine the how, when, what, and where of tolerance?
In his book True Tolerance, University of Texas professor, Jay Budziszewski helps to define the issue: The specific virtue of true tolerance has to do with the fact that sometimes we put up with things we rightly consider mistaken, wrong, harmful, offensive, or in some other way not worth approval.
The Free Online dictionary defines tolerance as: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others; Leeway for variation from a standard; The permissible deviation from a specified value of a structural dimension, often expressed as a percent.
Notice this portion of the definition: The permissible deviation from a specified value. When a machinist makes something, he has the standard and the allowable tolerance. Anything that deviates too much from the specified standard will not function properly or will breakdown too quickly.
How do we apply this to the present social context in which we live? How do we know that a mother is wrong when she leaves her baby in a dumpster? Most of us would agree that an act such as this is morally irrehensible.
To say that some things are wrong and that some things are right is to say that there is some standard to which we can appeal. Does society define its standards or do individuals determine the rightness or wrongness of their choices.
Once again: How can we determine the how, when, what, and where of tolerance? I know how I approach this, and I would be interesting to read your comments.