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Toleration in Law

23 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2018  

Avihay Dorfman

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 30, 2018


This paper challenges the contemporary approach to the study of toleration. In particular, I argue that this approach misunderstands the nature of the morality of toleration in politics. The mistake lies in supposing that law is akin to a dependent variable in the moral analysis leading up to the recommendation to use (or not to use) the law in the morally required way. However, I argue that law is partially constitutive of the study of toleration. The reason is that certain legal rules and institutions go beyond facilitating, accommodating, or enforcing moral prescriptions. Instead, they often assume a formative role by establishing forms of social interaction that would otherwise not have been available. To this extent, law partially determines the doctrine of toleration in politics. The argument focuses on one core case, private ownership, to demonstrate this broader point.

Keywords: toleration, discrimination, property, law, equality, religious liberty

JEL Classification: K10, K11

Suggested Citation

Dorfman, Avihay, Toleration in Law (January 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Avihay Dorfman (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, IL

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