Liberty, Toleration and Equality : John Locke, Jonas Proast and the Letters Concerning Toleration book cover
1st Edition

Liberty, Toleration and Equality
John Locke, Jonas Proast and the Letters Concerning Toleration

ISBN 9781138599666
Published May 9, 2018 by Routledge
280 Pages

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Book Description

The seventeenth century English philosopher, John Locke, is widely recognized as one of the seminal sources of the modern liberal tradition. Liberty, Toleration and Equality examines the development of Locke’s ideal of toleration, from its beginnings, to the culmination of this development in Locke’s fifteen year debate with his great antagonist, the Anglican clergyman, Jonas Proast. Locke, like Proast, was a sincere Christian, but unlike Proast, Locke was able to develop, over time, a perspective on toleration which allowed him to concede liberty to competing views which he, personally, perceived to be "false and absurd". In this respect, Locke sought to affirm what has since become the basic liberal principle that liberty and toleration are most significant when they are accorded to views to which we ourselves are profoundly at odds.

John William Tate seeks to show how Locke was able to develop this position on toleration over a long intellectual career. Tate also challenges some of the most prominent contemporary perspectives on Locke, within the academic literature, showing how these fall short of perceiving what is essential to Locke’s position.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Locke, Liberty and Governance

Chapter 2: From Conformity to Toleration – Matters of Influence

Chapter 3: From Conformity to Toleration – Matters of Argument

Chapter 4: Locke in the Dock

Chapter 5: Three "Considerations" for Toleration

Chapter 6: Locke vs. Proast

Chapter 7: Proast’s Response: "True Religion and the Salvation of Souls"

Chapter 8: Locke’s Reply: "That which without Impiety Cannot be Said"

Chapter 9: Locke, Scepticism and Consent

Chapter 10: Locke’s "Civil Perspective"

Chapter 11: Conclusion

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John William Tate is Senior Lecturer in Politics at The University of Newcastle, Australia. His primary research expertise is in the area of political philosophy and history of political thought.


'Locke’s defence of toleration is increasingly recognized as a topic not only of historical interest but also of importance for contemporary political theory, and politics. John Tate has written a book that reflects close understanding of Locke’s texts and circumstances and of the sophisticated scholarship that has been devoted to them. This is a thorough and engaging book on a major topic.' - Richard Vernon, University of Western Ontario, Canada

'In this bold and important new book John Tate seeks to rescue Locke from the claims of the historians of contemporary irrelevance and the charges of illiberalism of some liberal political philosophers. Through a careful and sensitive discussion of the development of his ideas about toleration, and in particular close attention to the protracted debate with Jonas Proast, Tate seeks to re-establish Locke's credentials as a founder of the liberal tradition of continuing relevance to liberal theorising.' - John Horton, Professor Emeritus of Political Philosophy, Keele University, UK