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Why Tolerate Religion?

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  62 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
This provocative book addresses one of the most enduring puzzles in political philosophy and constitutional theory--why is religion singled out for preferential treatment in both law and public discourse? Why, for example, can a religious soup kitchen get an exemption from zoning laws in order to expand its facilities to better serve the needy, while a secular soup kitchen ...more
Cloth, 168 pages
Published November 2012 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jan 24, 2015 Steven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book-length argument for the proposition that religious toleration, as a practice, is justified only as a special case of freedom of conscience, which to Leiter simply requires application of traditional liberal harm principles. In other words, Leiter says there's nothing about religion as such that warrants exemptions from otherwise-applicable laws, although the religious like anyone else can seek an exemption based on the general principle of freedom of conscience (so in Leiter World there a ...more
May 10, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
"Toleration may be a virtue, both in individuals and in states, but its selective application to the conscience of only religious believers is not morally defensible" (page 133).

This book was really engaging. It is directed at interested non-specialists, but I suppose, under a careful reading, even specialists might find something valuable in the argument of the last chapter.

I wish the author would stop asking so many question, at a certain point, that started to grate on me. Sometimes he woul
Mar 13, 2013 Ashley rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion
Portions of the book were surely interesting, and the rather controversial subject matter was as well, but it's hard to put the book down without feeling a little bit like I've just read a rather lengthy undergraduate paper - inappropriate comparisons, a handful of hand-picked examples, and the feeling that the entirety of the piece was written half-heartedly to stand behind a strong premise.
"An interesting book to read but obviously not for everybody. Just for those of us who still like to dig around in minutiae. I wasn't aware that there are still a number of philosophical-legal arguments going on in the academic world. It's a healthy sign for society. I hope the lawyers and judges out there are following this type of discussion. (Right!!!)"

Having written the above early in my reading, I will say that it is good to see that the philosophical-legal debates continue. However, I will
Mar 29, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok
I already agree and have thought about the main point, and was not motivated to read the whole book once I realized that.
Kate Irwin-smiler
Jul 23, 2013 Kate Irwin-smiler rated it liked it
Shelves: work
While this is pretty dense for me, right now, I have a feeling it's pretty light for philosophy. That's not a criticism, just a description. Even for being dense, it's pretty readable, and I appreciate the author's use of italics to emphasize key phrases - it's used well, but not over used. I am not surprised that the author ultimately decides there isn't a principled reason to privilege matters of religious conviction over other claims of conscience - that was pretty much what I assumed going i ...more
Carol Barker
Erudite but interesting.
Kathleen O'Neal
Jun 30, 2013 Kathleen O'Neal rated it liked it
This was a good book but it had the potential to be truly great with the benefit of a more sustained engagement with its topic and more respect for human autonomy more generally.
Jen Locke
Dec 18, 2014 Jen Locke added it
Shelves: library
I didn't finish reading this, but it's not what I expected, therefore not what I'd like to read. I think I know where it's going and I'm just not that interested.
Jul 26, 2013 Heidi rated it liked it
interesting read but not for everyone.
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Brian Leiter is the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence and Director, Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at The University of Chicago Law School.

Brian Leiter was a Visiting Professor at the Law School in the fall of 2006 and joined the faculty July 1, 2008, simultaneously founding the Law School’s Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values. Prior to that, he taught for more th
More about Brian Leiter...

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“we express a commitment to that which cannot be established by reason, or to that which can be established by reason but not for that reason.12” 0 likes
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