Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment

ISBN : 9780197265406

John Parkin; Timothy Stanton
300 ページ
168 x 243 mm
Proceedings of the British Academy

The early enlightenment has been seen as an epoch-making period in the development of modern Europe, marking the beginnings of the transition from a 'religious' to an essentially 'secular' understanding of human relations and generating in the process new accounts of the relationship between religion and politics, in which the idea of toleration figured centrally. In this volume of essays, leading scholars in the field challenge that view and explore the ways in which some of the most important discussions of toleration in the western tradition were shaped by understandings of natural theology and natural law. Far from representing a shift to non-religious ways of thinking about the world, the essays reveal the extent to which early enlightenment discussions of toleration presupposed a world-view in which God-given natural law established the boundaries between church and state and provided the primary point of reference for understanding claims to religious freedom. The book offers significant new interpretations of the relationship between natural theology and toleration in the works of Samuel Pufendorf, John Locke, G. W. Leibniz, Christian Thomasius, Jean Barbeyrac, and Francis Hutcheson. These interpretations suggest sometimes extensive revisions to contemporary thinking about these works and to the assumptions about the early enlightenment and its role in shaping liberal modernity it embodies. By carefully examining the arguments of these writers in their original contexts, without the interference of modern categories, and by setting those arguments in sequence, this book reveals an important transformation in modern thought, one that is yet continuous with the past and which poses some pointed questions for both the present and the future.


1. Religious Commitment and Secular Reason: Pufendorf on the Separation between Religion and Politics
2. Samuel Pufendorf and Religious Intolerance in the Early Enlightenment
3. Natural law, Nonconformity and Toleration: Two Stages on Locke's Way
4. John Locke and Natural Law: Free Worship and Toleration
5. The Tolerationist Programmes of Thomasius and Locke
6. Leibniz's Doctrine of Toleration: Philosophical, Theological, and Pragmatic Reasons
7. Toleration as Impartiality? Civil and Ecclesiastical Toleration in Jean Barbeyrac
8. Natural Rights or Political Prudence? Francis Hutcheson on Toleration
Postface. The Grounds for Toleration and the Capacity to Tolerate


Jon Parkin holds an MA in Modern History from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Intellectual History from the University of Cambridge. He was a Research Fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge (1995-8) and King's College London (1998-9) and went on to become Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of York (1999-2012). He is now Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at St Hugh's College, Oxford. Jon Parkin is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society ; Timothy Stanton holds a BA in Politics from the University of Leicester, an MA with distinction in Political Philosophy: the Idea of Toleration from the University of York and a PhD in Modern History from the University of Leicester. He was Beinecke Fellow at Yale University (2007-8) and Balzan-Skinner Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2011-12) and has been Lecturer in Politics at the University of York since 2004.