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The Toleration of Tolerations

General Programming

dateApril 22, 2014 timeTuesday, 4:00pm–6:00pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Free and open to the public
  • First come, first seated
Abraham Entertaining the Angels by Rembrandt, etching

Toleration involves many paradoxes. One we might call the paradox of uniformity: while the point of toleration is diversity, every particular theory of toleration--and the institutional regime of toleration that embodies or expresses it--likely rests on a vision of political life or human existence that is more consistent with some belief systems than with others. On the other hand, efforts to complicate toleration so as to combat these biases often run up against the claim that we are tolerating too much: that unlimited respect for diversity, including in the sources of toleration itself, renders impossible the achievement of valid public purposes.

This workshop will explore these tensions by examining perspectives on toleration that the dominant rationalist (and arguably post-Protestant) theories neglect: sectarian arguments that "evangelical liberty" and the competition for converts were essential to free exercise; the skeptical or antirationalist claim that apparently intolerant beliefs pose no real harm because people’s actions rarely follow from their opinions; and the overlapping experiences of toleration and exclusion present in the Anglo-Jewish and Jewish-American experiences.

Attendees are encouraged to read the workshop papers in advance. For papers, please email: [email protected].

  • Teresa Bejan Associate Professor of Political Theory Oxford University
  • Stephen Holmes Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law New York University
  • Ira Katznelson Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History Columbia University
  • Andrew Murphy Associate Professor Rutgers University
  • Andrew Sabl Professor of Public Policy and Political Science University of California, Los Angeles