Edited By Andrew R. Murphy, Charles Russel, Jaroslaw Pluciennik and Irena Hübner
Part II: The Philosophical, Religious, and Historical Bases of Tolerance and Toleration 43
Part II The Philosophical, Religious, and Historical Bases of Tolerance and Toleration Introduction to Part II A generally accepted scholarly truism holds that the story of tolerance in the West is rooted in a set of related developments — the Reformation, the six- teenth– and seventeenth–century ‘Wars of Religion,’ debates over liberty of worship in England and on the Continent, and an emergent Enlightenment em- phasis on the power of natural reason — that both shattered the pretentious claims of papal authority and provided a tenuous foothold for religious dissent. Such developments, often quite against the wishes of their most active and en- gaged participants, subsequently broadened out to encompass a host of related issues including freedoms of the press, association, and the broader liberties as- sociated with the liberal democratic tradition of limited government.1 On this account, without giving up its attention to ongoing issues of religious liberty and liberty of conscience more generally, the tolerationist tradition culminates in our own twenty–first century attention to issues of gender, race, and ethnic and cul- tural pluralism, and the many issues surrounding human sexuality. John Rawls, for example, argues that The historical origin of political liberalism (and of liberalism more generally) is the Reformation and its aftermath, with the long controversies over religious toleration in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Something like the modern understanding of liberty of conscience and freedom of thought began there….It may seem like my em- phasis on the Reformation and the long controversy about...
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