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Religious Tolerance—The Pacemaker for Cultural Rights

  • Jürgen Habermas (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2004

Religious toleration first became legally enshrined in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Religious toleration led to the practice of more general inter-subjective recognition of members of democratic states which took precedence over differences of conviction and practice. After considering the extent to which a democracy may defend itself against the enemies of democracy and to which it should be prepared to tolerate civil disobedience, the article analyses the contemporary dialectic between the notion of civil inclusion and multiculturalism. Religious toleration is seen as the pacemaker for modern multiculturalism, in which the claims of minorities to civic inclusion are recognized so long as members of all groups understand themselves to be citizens of one and the same political community.

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Annual Lecture, 2003.
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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
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