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Cover Issues in Political Theory

7. Toleration  

Anna Elisabetta Galeotti

This chapter explores toleration, which enables the peaceful coexistence of conflicting views and ways of life within the same society. It originally emerged as the political solution to the religious wars that devastated Europe after the Reformation. Toleration as the suspension of political interference in the religious creeds of people was affirmed as the only way to stop the killings for the sake of eternal salvation. At its origin, toleration was patterned on a model of civil coexistence that implied a divide between political affairs and private matters. The contemporary debate on toleration consists of three approaches: moral, liberal, and critical. The moral analysis of toleration is mainly concerned with the definition and justification of toleration as a social and moral virtue; the liberal analysis is focused on toleration as a political principle; and critical political theory proposes toleration as recognition.