Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity

Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity
Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity

When Cities Were Sovereign: Tolerantia a Civic Compromise in the Medieval City

Loren King, Wilfred Laurier University
Tuesday, September 26th, 2017
2:30-4:00, Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room D214
*Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Studies

Lecture Abstract: As a civic ideal, toleration asks us not simply to endure other beliefs and practices, but to consider them as sources of reasons that might eventually be decisive in public affairs. Highlighting this civic dimension of toleration is hardly novel, but it does remind us of a tension hidden from view in a popular statist narrative: of toleration as a civic bulwark against tyranny. Recognizing the demands of toleration unsettles this modernist posture: not simply a bulwark, toleration can transform and disrupt. Before and during the rise of the Westphalian state, shared norms of commerce in and among some medieval cities fostered a grudging recognition that the values and interests of others may be authoritative over us. Put crudely: together, the medieval practices of tolerantia and a lex mercatoria provide fertile grounds for understanding, and perhaps re-imagining, the distinctly civic compromises implicit in liberal-democratic toleration.

About the Speaker: Loren King is an associate professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University. His interests are primarily in political philosophy and the human sciences, specifically: problems of rationality, the structure and properties of attractive normative theories, and questions of justice and legitimacy in urban and global governance. He has further interests in statistics and data science, and water stewardship. Loren is principal at Mercator Analytics, and a founding member of the Great Lakes Trust, which awards seed grants supporting science, art, and advocacy for the Canadian Great Lakes. He received his doctorate in 2001 from M.I.T

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