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Toleration and Law: Historical Aspects

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Strictly speaking the law cannot admit toleration: It cannot tolerate ideas or behaviour which are contrary to its requirements. This logic explains why for centuries civilizations found no place for toleration. Then in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, philosophers and thinkers such as Spinoza, Locke, Bayle and later Voltaire or Malesherbes advocated tolerance, certain aspects of which were to be introduced into the legislation of many countries: freedom of opinion, the free movement of persons, freedom of assembly and of religion.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Institut de France, Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, 23, Quai de Conti, 75270 Paris Cedex 06, France

Publication date: 1997-03-01

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