The Justification of Toleration
There are three questions central to this book: ‘What is toleration?’, ‘Why is it thought to be good?’ and ‘What are its limits?’ In discussing the theories of Locke and Mill, some consideration has been given to each of these questions, and to the ways in which toleration has been understood in the history of political philosophy. However, the discussions so far have been historically selective in one very important sense: both Locke and Mill are writers squarely in the liberal tradition of political theory. Indeed, as we have already seen, Mill’s defence of toleration is standardly regarded as the characteristically liberal defence; the argument from autonomy is ‘sometimes thought to be the specifically liberal argument for toleration: the one argument which is not shared by non-liberals, and which displays the spirit of the liberal approach to politics’ (Raz, 1988, p.155).
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