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Focusing on Rajeev Bhargava's claim that Aśoka was a secularist avant-la-lettre, I dispute the common understanding of secularism as the separation of religion and politics, and argue instead that such separation, to the extent that it existed, was characteristic of traditional religious societies. I then offer an alternative history of secularism as the demise of the traditional balance of power between church and state, and the rise of a unitary state which incorporated a civil religion that excluded competing forms of religiosity within its domain. This model of secularism, exemplified by the seventeenth-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, fits Aśoka's Dhamma better than the separationist model does.
This chapter returns to the start of Bayle’s publishing career, and the famous argument for the possibility of virtuous atheism in the Pensées diverses. Bayle’s sources and modes of argumentation are identified. Ultimately, the work was a relatively trivial piece of haute vulgarisation; to the extent that the book had an underlying message, it was to outline an anti-Pelagian anthropology. The book proved entirely uncontroversial until it was incorporated into the anti-Bayle campaign waged by Jurieu in the early 1690s. Only at this point did Bayle come up with the elaborate historicisation already discussed in II.1, which also served to expand greatly the canon of (moral) ancient and Asian atheists. But this argument also served another purpose: to further elaborate Bayle’s case for toleration, based on the rights of the errant conscience. This involved Bayle in the theological controversy over ‘philosophic sin’ that had been stirred up by Antoine Arnauld. It led him to develop his mature position. Philosophy had historically been valuable in morality, but disastrous when it came to conceptualising the divine. Christianity had resolved the situation by providing solutions to otherwise insoluble theological problems via its doctrine of creation ex nihilo by a transcendent creator deity (rather than a metaphysical first principle), and by supplying the common people with a set of moral doctrines clearer than those of any philosopher.
The present article examines Grotius’ views on the relationship between church and state. He composed most of the works dealing exclusively with this theme in the years before 1618, but his later work is discussed as well. The historical and intellectual background to Grotius’ views is examined, such as the Dutch religious troubles, toleration, Jewish history and Erastianism. This is followed by Grotius’ general views on church and state as expressed in his works and his views on specific aspects, such as lawgiving, the right of resistance by the church, synods, ecclesiastical hierarchy, divine and natural law. It is concluded that Grotius held that there is only one, indivisible sovereign government, and that this is civil government: all external acts in the public space are subject to the sovereign. Abuse of this absolute power is restricted by the fact that the sovereign has to render account to God. Grotius’ lifelong ideal was that of a state based on these principles, with a Christian public church, where toleration of religious differences was practised.
As long as their actions are lawful, administrators ought to reinforce the democratic values in their systems of representative government. The reason why is that doing so helps to legitimate policy work as a form of representation: policy work is done on behalf of citizens, and recognizing this integrates policy workers and the state, which itself is born from representation. Institutional designers must not advocate structural choices that compromise the legitimating that representation has for policy work, and they can only craft structures capable of producing democracy administered from values that complement those of the representative governments toward which they direct their proposals. One structure thus cannot fit all political jurisdictions because their representative governments make different trade-offs in accountability and process values. But attending to value complementarity helps to facilitate representation, to legitimate the state, to address the fundamental problem of public administration and to nurture democracy administered.
David Little presents Roger Williams as a seventeenth-century champion of conscience. Williams was expelled from Massachusetts Bay that ostensibly prized free exercise, but in fact recognized it only within narrow bands of orthodoxy. Williams thereafter prized freedom of conscience in the charter for the Providence Plantations and Rhode Island. A central principle for Williams is the distinction between the “inward” and “external” fora. The “inward forum” is the conscience, a “spiritual power” changeable by reason and persuasion. The “external forum” is “outward behavior,” meaning actions that can be coerced by the governing authority through force, in order to protect life, property, and other interests. Williams provocatively labeled coercive acts against conscience as “soul rape” and “piracy,” indicating how deeply and intimately these violated the person. Williams maintained a fruitful relationship with the Narangansett Indians, having shown them great respect, as the people who provided him refuge when he was expelled from Massachusetts Bay. He didn’t co-opt their government, and fully respected their ability to choose religion (or not), in the quiet of their own internal fora.
The debate over the presence and nature of a single established church in England is perhaps the most important religious issue in the long eighteenth century. From the Elizabethan ‘Penal Laws’ designed to suppress Roman Catholicism to the ‘Clarendon Code’, intended to limit the civil participation of Protestant Nonconformists, the history of religious establishment in England reveals patterns of protectionism and exclusion necessary to maintain the privileged position of the Church ‘as by law established’. New ideas in the eighteenth century, such as toleration and deism, as well as the rise of Methodism, challenged but did not overcome this Anglican hegemony.
This book argues that the problems of genocide are as much conceptual as empirical: that the crowning of genocide as “crime of crimes” depoliticizes the language of transgression; and that depoliticization means screening out how genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the wanton infliction of collateral damage are driven by the permanent security imperatives of states and political movements seeking to found states. As a consequence, the connections between the postwar order of nation-states, the violence with which they were founded, and the international legal order are largely hidden from view. However, the appeal of making the world “safe for democracy” and “saving strangers” in the name of humanity has waned with the election of populist nationalists who express disdain for “globalism” and emphasize national security. Even so, whether in the name of an “international rules-based order” or making one’s country “great again,” US geopolitical domination is the enduring imperative that drives the permanent securitization of subaltern actors that challenge liberal empire.
There are good reasons to consider Hume to have been a moral relativist. There are also good reasons to deny that he was one. Hume answered the question of the Euthyphro in the negative: a divine being could feel no sentiments, so could feel no moral sentiments, and so could have no moral sense. Morality, like secondary qualities, is something that exists for creatures and that is brought about by making those creatures a certain way. At the same time, Hume was concerned to argue that, as a matter of fact, human beings all share a common sentimental constitution that makes them all value what is useful or agreeable either to self or others. The issue of moral disagreement is a challenge to this conclusion. But Hume sought to address it only to the extent that it is a challenge. Moral disagreements that arise from prioritizing different utilities, or giving different weight to the useful as opposed to the agreeable or the personal as opposed to the social, are not ones he was concerned to resolve or adjudicate, though he did think that our moral psychology would not allow us to tolerate one another’s contrary opinions on these matters.
Early in the history of liberalism, its most important proponents were concerned with freedom of religion. As polities and individuals now accept a dizzying array of religions, this has receded to the background for most theorists. It nonetheless remains a concern. Freedom of speech is a similar concern and very much in the foreground for theorists looking at the current state of academia. In this essay, I argue that inappropriate limits to freedom of religion and inappropriate limits to freedom of speech—especially in the form of de-platforming on college campuses—both have, as one of their effects, what I call harms of silence. This means we ought not have those limits, so should seek to change them where they exist.
Locke’s doctrine of the fundamentals has important irenic implications. His omission of disputed doctrines from his account of Christianity implies toleration of all those accepting the Law of Faith. Moreover, his theological writings do not describe affiliation to a church as essential to salvation. This position implicitly makes denominationally uncommitted Christians tolerable. This is a step beyond the mere separation between the state and religious societies, which Locke affirmed in his “letters” on toleration. However, Locke argued that acceptance of the Law of Faith could lead not only to salvation, but also to properly comprehend and observe the divine law. This position is problematic, since Locke avoided extending toleration from competing conceptions of salvation to competing conceptions of the good. But, to Locke, those who believe in God, although rejecting the Law of Faith, are tolerable, because they acknowledge the divinely given Law of Nature and, thus, can meet at least minimally decent moral standards. This is why he did not exclude non-Christian believers from toleration, while he was intolerant of atheists and censured the immoral ideas held by Roman Catholics.
John Locke's religious interests and concerns permeate his philosophical production and are best expressed in his later writings on religion, which represent the culmination of his studies. In this volume, Diego Lucci offers a thorough analysis and reassessment of Locke's unique, heterodox, internally coherent version of Protestant Christianity, which emerges from The Reasonableness of Christianity and other public as well as private texts. In order to clarify Locke's views on morality, salvation, and the afterlife, Lucci critically examines Locke's theistic ethics, biblical hermeneutics, reflection on natural and revealed law, mortalism, theory of personal identity, Christology, and tolerationism. While emphasizing the originality of Locke's scripture-based religion, this book calls attention to his influences and explores the reception of his unorthodox theological ideas. Moreover, the book highlights the impact of Locke's natural and biblical theology on other areas of his thought, thus enabling a better understanding of the unity of his work.
If there is one God, why are there so many religions? Might all be false? Some revert to a relativism that allows different 'truth's' for different people, but this is incoherent. This Element argues that monotheism has provided the basis for a belief in objective truth. Human understanding is fallible and partial, but without the idea of one God, there is no foundation for a belief in one reality or a common human nature. The shadow of monotheism lies over our understanding of science, and of morality.
In this article we examine Kant’s understanding of toleration by including a study of all instances in which he directly uses the language of toleration and related concepts. We use this study to resolve several key areas of interpretative dispute concerning Kant’s views on toleration. We argue that Kant offers a nuanced and largely unappreciated approach to thinking about toleration, and related concepts, across three normative spheres: the political, the interpersonal and the personal. We examine shortcomings in earlier interpretations and conclude by arguing that the theme of toleration in Kant’s work, while coherent and important, is neither as central nor as peripheral as suggested by previous interpretations. Further, while Kant is critical of the arrogance of toleration in the political sphere, he is more positive toward the role of toleration in the interpersonal and personal spheres since it promotes virtue.
This chapter argues that ‘prejudice’ was both the enemy and alter-ego of enlightenment in Ireland. While many enlightened figures choose to condemn prejudice as an irrational and malign force, others would query both the possibility and desirability of a world without prejudice. Indeed, the war against prejudice, it was argued, bred a bigotry of its own. The chapter shows how the question of prejudice had a key bearing on debates about reason, religious toleration, and economic improvement in eighteenth-century Ireland.
Chapter 7 examines Locke’s career and reputation from the Glorious Revolution until his death. During this understudied period of his life he emerged as a published author for the first time. His political and religious works were now susceptible to accusations of ‘Hobbism’. Such accusations came at him in varied forms and, because of his continuing habits of authorial anonymity, in many cases only glanced against his politics and theory of toleration. But the chapter offers a close reading of many of these polemical exchanges and reveals surprisingly strong echoes of the Restoration church’s campaign against civil religion and politique toleration. Locke, and informed defenders such as Samuel Bold, understood the fallacy of associating with such features of Restoration ‘Hobbism’. But to the established church, and particularly to the beleaguered high church and purged non-jurors, Locke loomed as part of a radical clique seeking to establish a heretical philosophical freedom under the auspices of sovereign power.
Chapter 5 is the lynchpin chapter of this book. It offers contextual analysis of Locke’s most important tolerationist texts: the unpublished ‘Answer to Stillingfleet’ and the famed Epistola de Tolerantia. These works are shown to have moved beyond the idioms of civil religion, monarchical prerogative, and prudential indulgence. They offer a full-blown, rights-oriented defence of religious freedom and free exercise. They justify, potentially, political resistance in defence of these rights. They also offer, for the first time, a Lockean ecclesiology: a positive theory of churches, their autonomy, and ends. In argument and tone the ‘Answer’ and the Epistola dramatically break with Locke’s earlier writings on toleration. This break is presented, from one angle, as a break with the politique tolerationism of Restoration Hobbism. Locke is shown to have developed a ‘non-domination’ account of religious freedom and free exercise. His thinking was no longer subservient to the needs of the state, and indeed his theory of conscience freedom could undermine those interests. This chapter interprets Lockean toleration theory as an emancipation from the civil religion and prerogative-oriented logic of Hobbesian toleration.
This chapter focuses on dramatizations of what John Marshall identifies as the central issue of the early Enlightenment, religious toleration, also a crucial pillar of Whig ideology. Addison and Steele were both advocates of toleration, and their fellow dramatists were no less enthusiastic. I analyse John Hughes’s The Siege of Damascus (1718), a play that remained widely popular through the century, famous for its tense scene of religious testing. The play was based on the work of pioneering Arabist Simon Ockley and offers an object lesson in the way a respectful account of Arab history was put into wide circulation. Other plays that used Near Eastern settings, such as Aaron Hill’s Zara (1735) and James Thomson’s Edward and Eleonora (1739) shared Hughes’s tolerationist agenda. By contrast, I also present plays with a much more conservative perspective on religious difference, including John Brown’s Barbarossa (1754).
Tolerance underlies many contemporary controversies, yet theorists and political scientists study it in strikingly different ways. This article bridges the gap by using recent developments in political theory to enrich empirical research and extend the study of tolerance to contexts beyond liberal democracies, such as authoritarian regimes. Our recommendations challenge dominant liberal-democratic frameworks by emphasizing variation across the (1) objects of tolerance; (2) possible responses to difference; and (3) sources of tolerance. We then illustrate the promise of our recommendations with three theoretically informed experiments inspired by historical debates about religious conversion. Our results suggest a marked ‘convert effect’ across not only contemporary religious but also secular political divides, with the same difference in terms of content viewed as less tolerable when resulting from conversion than when given or ascribed. The research demonstrates the benefits of greater dialogue across political theory and political science, while shedding light on a central question of tolerance today.
This chapter is devoted to an exposition of the way in which the Christian Democratic ideology has historically conceived – and proposed to structure – the relationship between politics and religion. The analysis will proceed through a reconstruction of the meaning assigned to the concept of religious ‘inspiration’ of politics in this intellectual and political tradition.