Bayle on the Rights of Conscience

John Kilcullen

in Sincerity and Truth

Published in print July 1988 | ISBN: 9780198266914
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191683114 | DOI:
Bayle on the Rights of Conscience

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This chapter examines Bayle's arguments on the rights of conscience. Bayle's arguments grew out of a small point in letters 20 and 21 of his General Critique, namely that the true religion (whichever that is) has no more right to persecute than the false. When this was challenged as ‘an impious paradox’ Bayle argued for it at length in letter 9 of the New Letters, maintaining that those who believe an error are morally obliged to do whatever they would be obliged to do if their belief were true, and therefore, since people have a right to do their duty, they can do it without blame. The same point is argued again in his Philosophical Commentary, part II, chs, 8–10, and again in the Supplement. This chapter examines the arguments on the rights of conscience given in New Letters, and those given in the Philosophical Commentary.

Keywords: rights of conscience; truth; New Letters; Philosophical Commentary

Chapter.  24849 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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