Toleration, power and the right to justification – Q&A with Rainer Forst

Posted by Alice Hoad - Sunday, 12 Apr 2020


How would you like someone who has read your book to sum it up in one sentence?

By critically examining Rainer Forst’s critical theory of toleration and power, this book sheds light on the multiple aspects of the question of toleration in our time.

What book in your field has inspired you the most?

Pierre Bayle’s 1686 Commentaire philosophique (on toleration) and John Rawls’ Political Liberalism.

Did your research take you to any unexpected places?

Yes, it did. I had not intended to write a huge tract (my 2003 German /2013 Cambridge UP book on toleration) on the history of toleration. But once I started looking into the history, more and more fascinating theories and aspects appeared. And more work of analysis and synthesis piled up. For the MUP book, the unexpected was, of course, personified by my great critics. The best people in the field.

Which writing process do you use (computer, longhand, dictate, other)?

Hand and computer.

Why did you choose to publish with MUP?

I was lucky enough to be included in the Critical Powers series, which is superb. My second book in it.

What are you working on now?

A theory of power, other questions: legitimacy, political trust, social integration.

If you could go back and give yourself once piece of advice when starting out on this project, what would it be?

As I tried to do – listen to my critics.

If you could have been the author of any book, what would it be and why?

Kant’s Groundwork – because then I would be Kant.

What other genres do you enjoy reading?


Which authors (academic and not) would you invite to a dinner party?

Those who are no longer with us – wish I could have John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin back.



Toleration, power and the right to justification: Rainer Forst in dialogue by Rainer Forst is available to buy now.

Rainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at Goethe University, Frankfurt and Co-Director of the Research Institute ‘The Formation of Normative Orders’



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