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Toleration: Concept and Practices



Toleration is one of the highly debated concepts in contemporary political theory. It is often associated with the ideas and policies of liberal democracy. This course aims to explicate the dimensions of the concept of toleration within the tradition of contemporary liberalism while at the same time, pointing out the features of the criticisms of liberal toleration.
The first week lays out the conceptual dimensions of toleration such as circumstances, scope and paradox of toleration. The second week analyzes various reasons that argue for the importance and value of toleration. Weeks 3 and 4 concentrate on two topics respectively which are often debated in connection to toleration in the liberal tradition: recognition and neutrality and aim to reflect on the relation between these two concepts and toleration. Week 5 specifically examines the arguments that are skeptical and critical of the value of liberal toleration. Finally, the last two weeks, focus on two particular contexts of toleration in contemporary world: religion and free speech.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, the students;

  • will have gained a deeper knowledge on the meaning and dimensions of the concept of toleration and its contexts in contemporary public political life.

  • will have developed a better insight on various contemporary debates related to toleration.

  • will have improved their analytical skills in textual interpretation of theoretical texts in contemporary political philosophy.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, student presentations and discussions

Assessment method

Two take home essays, one presentation
1st Essay: Students are required to write a 1500-2000 words essay that answers one of their chosen question from a set of questions
2nd Essay: Students are required to write a 2000 -2500 words essay on their chosen topic within the scope of the course.
The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average (%40 1st essay, %40 2nd essay, %10 presentation and %10 participation)

There can be a re-sit exam (make up assignment) for the students who have legitimate excuses to miss the exam according to the rules and conduct of Leiden University.

Reading List

See the course syllabus on Brightspace for all literature.


See 'Practical Information'.




Devrim Kabasakal Badamchi