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Why Tolerate Religion? (Unabridged)
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Why Tolerate Religion? (Unabridged) [Audio Download]

by Brian Leiter (Author), Robin Bloodworth (Narrator)
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 3 hours and 46 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 28 Oct 2012
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009Y0MFOG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product Description

This provocative audiobook addresses one of the most enduring puzzles in political philosophy and constitutional theory - why is religion singled out for preferential treatment in both law and public discourse? Why, for example, can a religious soup kitchen get an exemption from zoning laws in order to expand its facilities to better serve the needy, while a secular soup kitchen with the same goal cannot? Why is a Sikh boy permitted to wear his ceremonial dagger to school while any other boy could be expelled for packing a knife? Why are religious obligations that conflict with the law accorded special toleration while other obligations of conscience are not?

In Why Tolerate Religion?, Brian Leiter argues that the reasons have nothing to do with religion, and that Western democracies are wrong to single out religious liberty for special legal protections. He offers new insights into what makes a claim of conscience distinctively "religious", and draws on a wealth of examples from America, Europe, and elsewhere to highlight the important issues at stake. With philosophical acuity, legal insight, and wry humor, Leiter shows why our reasons for tolerating religion are not specific to religion but apply to all claims of conscience, and why a government committed to liberty of conscience is not required by the principle of toleration to grant exemptions to laws that promote the general welfare.

©2013 Princeton University Press; (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The shoe is on the other foot nowadays when it comes to defending the good of religion. No book I have read makes that clearer than this one. It is by a high powered professor of jurisprudence, expert in philosophy, and is well-written and accessible. Within it is a cogent argument that western democracies are wrong to single out religious liberty for special legal protection.

`Generally applicable laws intentionally burden minority claims of conscience, whereas a regime of exemptions intentionally privileges religious claims of conscience, to the exclusion of others, even though there is no reason to do so'. For a Sikh boy to be permitted to take his ceremonial dagger to school and a farmer's boy, possessing a knife handed down through generations, not to be so allowed concentrates the legal, moral, philosophical arguments that surround singling out religious liberty for special legal protection.

Brian Leiter makes a bold, well reasoned claim in a fairly courteous way. I was disarmed by his criticism of French laïcité that endeavours to keep public life secular by banning religious artefacts. The author sees this exclusion as inherently intolerant, `a case of impermissible intolerance of religion' for he sees the neutrality aspired to as a façade cloaking antipathy to Muslims. The wearing of religious symbols does not undermine democratic equality. The American professor makes unfavourable contrast of French laïcité with the legal establishment of the Church of England and principled toleration of a variety of religions in modern Britain. Both religious establishment and disestablishment can and should be associated with freedom to display religious convictions in public.
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