The Career of Toleration considers the Locke-Proast controversy from the standpoint of political theory, examining Locke's and Proast's texts and tracing their relationship to later discussions of toleration. Vernon reconstructs the grounds of the dispute, drawing attention to the long-term importance of the arguments and evaluating their relative strength. He then examines issues of toleration in later contexts, specifically James Fitzjames Stephen's critique of John Stuart Mill, the perfectionist alternative to contractualist liberalism, and the view that the traditional attachment to toleration must, by the force of its own arguments, move from liberalism to a defence of a much stronger form of democracy.
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