Teresa M. Bejan, Associate Professor of Political Theory
University of Oxford
Dr. Bejan’s research brings perspectives from early modern English and American political thought to bear on questions in contemporary political theory and practice. She has published peer-reviewed articles in The Journal of Politics, History of Political Thought, Review of Politics, History of European Ideas, and the Oxford Review of Education, and in several edited volumes. Her book, Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (Harvard University Press) examines contemporary calls for civility in light of seventeenth-century debates about religious toleration. Many of the pressing questions facing liberal democracies today — such as what the proper scope of religious liberty should be and how to handle partisanship and hate speech — closely recall early modern concerns about the limits of toleration and the dangers posed by sectarianism, evangelical expression, and so-called “persecution of the tongue.” Then as a now, thinkers appealed to civility as a way to reconcile the tension between diversity and disagreement, but determining what civility requires can be complicated. While some restraint on expression is surely necessary to make disagreement tolerable, accusations of “incivility” can easily become pretexts for persecution.