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Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment$
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Jon Parkin and Timothy Stanton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265406

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265406.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Religious Commitment and Secular Reason

Religious Commitment and Secular Reason

Pufendorf on the Separation between Religion and Politics

(p.1) 1 Religious Commitment and Secular Reason
Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment

Simone Zurbuchen

British Academy

This chapter suggests that a nuanced account of early Enlightenment natural law theory may have something to offer modern debates that swing between a liberal emphasis on individual rights and a communitarian emphasis upon group rights. An examination of Pufendorf's work reveals that his natural law theory embraces two connected ways of thinking about toleration. One the one hand, his theory underpins the power of the magistrate to tolerate pragmatically for reasons of state. On the other, his account of natural religion defines a sphere that cannot be invaded legitimately by the state. Pufendorf's distinction between churches (as voluntary associations) and states (as guarantors of individual rights) offers resources for rethinking contemporary discussions that struggle to balance claims by religious communities to maintain their identities with the claims of their vulnerable members not to be oppressed.

Keywords:   Early Enlightenment, natural law, Samuel Pufendorf, toleration, individual rights, group rights, church and state

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