Toleration and its Paradoxes: A Tribute to John Horton

Abstract

This paper discusses John Horton’s influential theory of toleration. Starting from his analysis of the paradoxes of toleration, I argue that the avoidance of these paradoxes requires a moral justification of toleration based on practical reason. I cite the conception of toleration that Pierre Bayle developed to support this claim. But Horton is skeptical of such a moral justification, and this creates problems for his account of toleration.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    With respect to the first two components I follow King (1976), ch 1. Newey (1999), ch. 1, also distinguishes between three kinds of reasons in his structural analysis of toleration (which, however, differs from mine in the way these reasons are interpreted). For a comprehensive discussion, see Forst (2013).

  2. 2.

    Horton (1996, 32).

  3. 3.

    “Tolerance should be a temporary attitude only: it must lead to recognition. To tolerate means to insult.” Goethe (1981, 507 (Trans. R.F.)).

  4. 4.

    Horton (1996, 37).

  5. 5.

    Ibid., 38.

  6. 6.

    Horton (1994, 13).

  7. 7.

    Ibid., 13f.

  8. 8.

    See Labrousse (1982).

  9. 9.

    On this, see my Toleration in Conflict, §§ 4 and 5.

  10. 10.

    A similar argument can be found in Castellio (1935, 131): “But to judge of doctrine is not so simple as to judge of conduct. In the matter of conduct, if you ask a Jew, Turk, Christian, or anyone else, what he thinks of a brigand or a traitor, all will reply with one accord that brigands and traitors are evil and should be put to death. (…) This knowledge is engraved and written in the hearts of all men from the foundation of the world. (…) Now let us take up religion and we shall find that it is not so evident and manifest.”

  11. 11.

    The perspectivism of Montaigne’s Essais seems to have had an influence on Bayle in this regard, though without Montaigne’s skeptical conclusions. See also Brush (1966).

  12. 12.

    See Rawls (1993, 54ff.), where he uses the term “burdens of judgment,” explaining why disagreement between persons can be a result of using reason, not of being unreasonable. In earlier texts he had used the (more appropriate) term “burdens of reason.” See esp. Rawls (1989).

  13. 13.

    This is the view presented by Popkin (1959). Brush (1966, 300) calls Bayle a “semi-fideist,” which is more adequate. I would, at the risk of speaking paradoxically, call him a “rationalist fideist.”

  14. 14.

    The most important philosophical text where this relation between reason and faith—and the reasonableness and unavoidability of disagreement—was elaborated for the first time is Jean Bodin’s Colloquium heptaplomeres (1975). For an interpretation to this effect, see Forst (2013, § 12).

  15. 15.

    See Forst (2003).

  16. 16.

    Horton (2009, 70).

  17. 17.

    Horton (2003, 21).

  18. 18.

    Ibid., 13.

  19. 19.

    Ibid., 20.

References

  1. Bayle, P. (1987). Philosophical commentary, ed. and tr. A. G. Tannenbaum. New York et al.: Peter Lang.

  2. Bayle, P. (1991). Historical and critical dictionary. Selections, tr. R. Popkin. Indianapolis: Hackett.

  3. Brush, C.B. (1966). Montaigne and Bayle. The Hague: Nijhoff.

  4. Castellio, S. (1935). Concerning heretics, whether they are to be persecuted (1554), tr. by R. H. Bainton. New York: Columbia Universty Press.

  5. Forst, R. (2003) Toleration, justice and reason. In C. McKinnon and D. Castiglione (Eds.). The culture of toleration in diverse societies (pp. 71–85). Manchester: Manchester University Press.

  6. Forst, R. (2013) Toleration in conflict: past and present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  7. Goethe, J.W. (1981). Maximen und Reflexionen, Werke 6. Frankfurt am Main: Insel.

  8. Horton, J. (1994). Three (apparent) Paradoxes of toleration. In Synthesis philosophica 9.

  9. Horton, J. (1996). Toleration as a virtue, In D. Heyd (Ed.), Toleration. an elusive virtue. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  10. Horton, J. (2003). Rawls, public reason and the limits of liberal justification. In Contemporary political theory 2.

  11. Horton, J. (2009). Reasonable disagreement. In M. Dimova-Cookson & S. Peter (Eds.), Multiculturalism and moral conflict. London: Routledge.

  12. King, P. (1976). Toleration. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Labrousse, E. (1982). The political ideas of the Huguenot Diaspora (Bayle and Jurieu). In R. M. Golden (Ed.), Church, state and society under the Bourbon Kings of France. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.

  14. Newey, G. (1999). Virtue, reason and toleration. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Popkin, R. (1959). Pierre Bayle’s Place in 17th Century Scepticism. In P. Dibon (Ed.), Pierre Bayle, Paris: Vrin, 1–19.

  16. Rawls, J. (1993). Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.

  17. Rawls, J. (1989). The domain of the political and overlapping consensus. In New York Law Review 64, 233–255.

  18. St. Augustine. (1953). Letters, tr. Sister W. Parsons. Washington: Catholic University Press of America.

  19. St. Augustine. (1981). In Joannis Evangelium. In P. G. Migne (Ed.), Patrologiae cursus completus. Turnhout: Brepols.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rainer Forst.

Additional information

An earlier version of this text was presented at a conference at Keele University in honor of John Horton. I am grateful to John Horton especially for his generous reply and to the other participants of the conference for a fruitful discussion. Special thanks also to Sorin Baiasu and three anonymous reviewers for Philosophia for their helpful comments.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Forst, R. Toleration and its Paradoxes: A Tribute to John Horton. Philosophia 45, 415–424 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-016-9801-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Toleration
  • Pierre Bayle
  • John Horton
  • Skepticism