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Moritz College of Law




This Article considers discontent with liberal toleration as being both too empty, because it fails to secure respect and appreciation among citizens who tolerate each other, and too robust, because it precludes government from engaging in a formative project of helping citizens to live good, self-governing lives. To meet these criticisms, the Article advances a model of toleration as respect, as distinguished from a model of empty toleration, drawing on three rationales for toleration: the anti-compulsion rationale, the jurisdictional rationale, and the diversity rationale. It defends toleration as respect against some common criticisms-emanating from feminist, civic republican, and liberal perfectionist sources-of toleration's supposed constraints upon a formative project. Toleration as respect not only permits but entails aformative project by government because it assigns a central value to the fostering of citizens' capacities for democratic and personal self-government. The Article takes up internal feminist debates and the debate over same-sex marriage to raise prudential concerns about perfectionistic calls for government to steer citizens toward better ways of life and away from worse ones, and to argue for the comparative strength of a feminist variant of political liberalism. It also critiques the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence as reflecting, at best, empty toleration, and rejects notions of empty toleration that justify discrimination against gay men and lesbians.



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