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Why Tolerate Religion?$
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Brian Leiter

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691163543

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691163543.001.0001

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Why Tolerate Religion?

Why Tolerate Religion?

(p.54) Chapter III Why Tolerate Religion?
Why Tolerate Religion?

Brian Leiter

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that there is no principled reason for legal or constitutional regimes to single out religion for protection; there is no moral or epistemic consideration that favors special legal solicitude toward beliefs that conjoin categorical commands with insulation from evidence, even if they produce some existential consolation. Second, the general principled arguments for toleration sketched in Chapter II—both the broadly Rawlsian and Millian ones—do justify legal protection for liberty of conscience, which would necessarily encompass toleration of religious beliefs. This means the hard question will be whether to expand the range of legal accommodations to all claims of conscience. Third, and finally, the general reasons for being skeptical that there are special reasons to tolerate religion qua religion (because of the special potential for harm that attaches to the conjunction of categorical demands based on beliefs insulated from evidence) suggest that we must be especially alert to the limits of religious toleration imposed by the side-constraints.

Keywords:   religious toleration, religion, applicable law, moral ideal, legal protection, conscience

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