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Why Tolerate Religion? by Brian Leiter

Science, Religion and Culture

Why Tolerate Religion? by Brian Leiter

Reviewed by David Svolba, Fitchburg State University, USA email:

Fitchburg State University, email:


One way in which our society ‘tolerates’ religion is by exempting citizens from laws that compel them to act in ways their religions forbid, or that forbid them from acting in ways their religions require. According to Brian Leiter, religious tolerance, in this sense, is prima facie morally justified.1 It is prima facie morally justified because religion is a source of claims of conscience, and liberty of conscience is supported on both broadly Kantian and utilitarian grounds. People will likely be happier in a society that allows them a “private space” in which “they can freely choose what to believe and how to live,” and affording each other this space is one important way in which we show respect for each other as persons (15-19). So the book’s title should not be taken as expression of skepticism on Leiter’s part concerning the case for religious tolerance. Leiter affirms the strength of that case in the book’s opening chapter.


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Science, Religion and Culture


Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82


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