Secularism and the Limits of Community

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law; University of Oxford

December 9, 2010

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-88

This paper addresses two issues: (1) the use of religious considerations in social and political argument; and (2) the validation of the claims of community against markets and other aspects of globalization. It argues that we should be very wary of the association of (1) with (2), and the use of (1) to reinforce (2). The claims of community in the modern world are often exclusionary (the word commonly associated with community is "gated") and hostile to the rights of the poor, the homeless, the outcast, and so on. The logic of community in the modern world is a logic that reinforces market exclusion and the disparagement of the claims of the poor. If religious considerations are to be used to uphold those claims and to mitigate exclusion, they need to be oriented directly to that task, and to be pursued in ways that by-pass the antithetical claims of community. Religious considerations are at their most powerful in politics - and are most usefully disconcerting - when they challenge the logic of community.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

Keywords: community, exclusion, globalization, homelessness, markets, poverty, Rawls, rights, religion

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Date posted: December 12, 2010 ; Last revised: December 20, 2010

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Secularism and the Limits of Community (December 9, 2010). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-88. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1722780 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1722780

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Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
University of Oxford ( email )
Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom
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