Toleration in Conflict. Past and Present

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Toleration in Conflict. Past and Present
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Rainer Forst

Toleration in Conflict

Past and Present

Toleration in Conflict. Past and Present

The concept of toleration plays a central role in pluralistic societies. It designates a stance which permits conflicts over beliefs and practices to persist while at the same time defusing them, because it is based on reasons for coexistence in conflict – that is, in continuing dissension. A critical examination of the concept makes clear, however, that its content and evaluation are profoundly contested matters and thus that the concept itself stands in conflict. For some, toleration was and is an expression of mutual respect in spite of far-reaching differences, for others, a condescending, potentially repressive attitude and practice. Rainer Forst analyses these conflicts by reconstructing the philosophical and political discourse of toleration since antiquity. He demonstrates the diversity of the justifications and practices of toleration from the Stoics and early Christians to the present day and develops a systematic theory which he tests in discussions of contemporary conflicts over toleration.

- A unique and comprehensive study of the concept of toleration from one of the world's leading political philosophers

- Develops a free-standing theory of toleration that can be applied across politics, philosophy and history

- Addresses both historic and contemporary ethical and political conflicts, applying the theory to a number of key case studies


  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Between Power and Morality: The Historical Discourse of Toleration:
    1. Toleration: concept and conceptions
    2. More than a prehistory: Antiquity and the Middle Age
    3. Reconciliation, schism, peace: humanism and the Reformation
    4. Toleration and sovereignty: political and individual
    5. Natural law, toleration and revolution: the rise of liberalism and the aporias of freedom of conscience
    6. The Enlightenment – for and against toleration
    7. Toleration in the modern era
    8. Routes to toleration
     Part II. A Theory of Toleration:
    9. The justification of toleration
    10. The finitude of reason
    11. The virtue of tolerance
    12. The tolerant society.


About the Author

Rainer Forst is professor of political theory and philosophy at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and director of the research cluster on the “Formation of Normative Orders.” He has also taught at the New School for Social Research in New York, the Free University Berlin, and Dartmouth College. He is the author of Contexts of Justice: Political Philosophy Beyond Liberalism and Communitarianism and the forthcoming Toleration in Conflict: History, Import, and Contemporary Significance of a Controversial Concept and Justification and Critique.