The Leo Strauss prize is awarded annually for the best dissertation in the field of political philosophy. This award is presented to Teresa Mia Bejan, University of Toronto for the Dissertation: “Mere Civility: Toleration and Its Limits in Early Modern England and America,” Yale University.
In this thorough, sustained, and engaging work, Teresa Bejan straddles early modern transatlantic and contemporary American discourses of toleration and civility. Bejan explores what the ideal of civility adds to the injunction to tolerate those we disagree with, perhaps disapprove of, or are even disgusted by. The work is well informed by the vast secondary literature on each of the three early modern thinkers she enlists as proponents of toleration—Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Roger Wiliams. Bejan convincingly demonstrates that each of these influential theorists answers her question about the relationship between civility and toleration in his own distinctive way, adducing different understandings of civility and of its contribution to a regime of toleration. Breathing new life into canonical texts and familiar themes, Bejan also consistently and convincingly considers their relevance for twenty first century political life. Bejan’s deft and confident tour through interesting and important matters still manages to exude a sense of humor and a delight in the doing of political theory.
Thanks to the Award Committee: Ruth Abbey, University of Notre Dame, chair; Elizabeth Cohen, Syracuse University; and Xavier Marquez, Victoria University of Wellington.