In this article we examine Kant’s understanding of toleration by including a study of all instances in which he directly uses the language of toleration and related concepts. We use this study to resolve several key areas of interpretative dispute concerning Kant’s views on toleration. We argue that Kant offers a nuanced and largely unappreciated approach to thinking about toleration, and related concepts, across three normative spheres: the political, the interpersonal and the personal. We examine shortcomings in earlier interpretations and conclude by arguing that the theme of toleration in Kant’s work, while coherent and important, is neither as central nor as peripheral as suggested by previous interpretations. Further, while Kant is critical of the arrogance of toleration in the political sphere, he is more positive toward the role of toleration in the interpersonal and personal spheres since it promotes virtue.
- political philosophy