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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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Natural Law, Nonconformity, and Toleration

Natural Law, Nonconformity, and Toleration

Two Stages on Locke’s Way

(p.35) 3 Natural Law, Nonconformity, and Toleration
Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment

Timothy Stanton

British Academy

This chapter identifies two significant stages in the development of Locke's mature position about toleration and explains the connections between them. At each stage, Locke made a series of conceptual moves whose combined effect replaced one understanding of the relations between church and state with another, and one upon which the argument of his Epistola de tolerantia/A Letter concerning toleration depended. Locke's ‘Defence of nonconformity’ (1681–2) is shown to be a pivotal text, which looks forward to the conclusions of Two treatises of government as well as Epistola, and which provides pressing reasons to doubt the adequacy of most modern treatments of Locke's view of toleration and the assumptions they embody about his wider moral and political theory.

Keywords:   John Locke, natural law, toleration, church and state, nonconformity, moral and political theory

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