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Montaigne and the Tolerance of Politics$
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Douglas I. Thompson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190679934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190679934.001.0001

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Exiting the Marketplace of Intolerance

Exiting the Marketplace of Intolerance

(p.91) 4 Exiting the Marketplace of Intolerance
Montaigne and the Tolerance of Politics

Douglas I. Thompson

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates Michel de Montaigne’s treatment of the emergent discourse of reason of state. It shows that Montaigne neither affirms nor rejects reason of state; instead, he argues both for and against it without resolution. His purpose is to highlight the danger of following elite justifications for violence, given either in terms of political necessity or with moral reasons. Montaigne seeks to call into being a public with the capacity to resist elites’ stimulation of popular demand for intolerant policy and their promises to supply it. In doing so, Montaigne develops an original early theory of public opinion and its role in tolerance conflicts. The chapter engages with Bernard Williams’s conception of tolerance in terms of “political realism.”

Keywords:   Michel de Montaigne, reason of state, public opinion, political realism, moralism, Bernard Williams, tolerance

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