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John Locke: From Absolutism to Toleration

  • Robert P. Kraynak (a1)
Abstract

Many of Locke's early writings have been discovered and published in the last 30 years. Among them are two short tracts in which Locke argues that the power of the civil magistrate should be absolute. Because these early tracts are very different from Locke's later teachings, they have been misunderstood by contemporary scholars who do not see any connection between absolutism and liberal toleration. I explain the connection by reconstructing Locke's critique of religious politics, which reveals that absolutism and toleration are the same in principle despite their great difference in practice. I then use this demonstration to explain Locke's development and to illuminate the foundations of contemporary liberalism.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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