Micah J. Schwartzman

The Relevance of Locke's Religious Arguments for Toleration

Political Theory


John Locke's theory of toleration has been criticized as having little relevance for politics today because it rests on controversial theological foundations. Although there have been some recent attempts to develop secular, or publicly accessible, arguments out of Locke's writings, these tend to obscure and distort the religious arguments that Locke used to defend toleration. More importantly, these efforts ignore the role that religious arguments may play in supporting the development of a normative consensus on the legitimacy of liberal political principles. Bracketing the search for publicly accessible justifications makes it possible to appreciate the continued relevance of Locke's religious arguments for toleration.


Micah J. Schwartzman, The Relevance of Locke's Religious Arguments for Toleration, 33 Political Theory 678-705 (2005).

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