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Toleration, Civility, and 'Absolute Presuppositions'

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This article argues that toleration understood as the principled restraint from the use of force is an instance of RG. Collingwood's 'ideal of civility' towards which liberalism as the process of civilisation aspires. In the first part of this article, Toleration as Civility, I draw on Collingwood's philosophy to provide an account of toleration as an instance of civility embodying self-respect, historical consciousness, and complete freedom of the will. Accordingly, the limits of toleration are conceived as necessarily informed by the level of civilisation in society, and relativism in such limits in society is part of the dynamic of the process of civilisation towards a universal ideal, and not an end state in itself. In the second part, Toleration and 'Absolute Presuppositions', it will be shown that Collingwood's theory of atonement and his assertion of the Christian roots of liberalism supports a view of toleration as a moral 'attitude' which captures the elements of atonement (those being punishment, forgiveness, love and hope), and highlights the relevance of Collingwood's theory of 'absolute presuppositions' to contemporary issues in political philosophy.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Politics, Derwent College, University of York, YO10 5DD., Email: mmk503@york.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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