Essay Toleration

Essay Toleration-70
The gist of Proast's denial is that even though belief cannot be coerced, coercion may be used as an effective means of situating an individual in circumstances that may conduce true belief, and therefore would be justified.

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Its aftermath caused Locke to seek refuge in the Netherlands.

While Locke was there, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes (1685), thereby terminating religious liberty to French Protestants.

This is a concept that Locke also had: assurance beyond doubt, belief bordering upon certainty; yet it is not knowledge.

Chapter 4 introduces the notion of cognitive individualism, and its analogue, doxastic individualism.

Jolley contends that this theme, although not this explicit policy, is the fundamental motive of Locke's thought.

This seems to be a very plausible hypothesis, but it is off target.

It was the impact of that event and his experience of a perhaps less cruel persecution of the Dutch Remonstrants that prompted Locke to think about toleration at the very time he was clarifying his position on the limits of knowledge and belief.

The remaining chapters are topical, each devoted to a concept or argument that Locke employed to define the nature and scope of toleration and defend its practice.

That argument turns on the claim that coercion is of no use whatever in establishing belief of any sort, and that any attempt to do so is futile and irrational.

This is the argument that Jeremy Waldron has seized upon as the 'crux' of Locke's defense, along with Proast's qualified denial of it, which Waldron accepts, and which therefore leads him to characterize it as fatally flawed.


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