Theology in Public Reason and Legal Discourse: A Case for the Preferential Option for the Poor

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Vol. 15 (2009)

Seattle University School of Law Research Paper

78 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2008 Last revised: 21 Mar 2013

Russell Powell

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

There is a strange disconnect between the formal understanding of the separation of religion from government in the United States and the almost ubiquitous use of religious language in political discourse, not to mention the web of complicated religious motivations that sit on or just below the surface of policy debates. This paper presents an argument for the relevance of the principle of the "preferential option for the poor" from Catholic social thought in public reason and legal discourse in order to explore the possible advantages of making the veil between religion and the secular state more permeable. As a case study, it proposes dialogue between Catholicism and complementary secular thought, including standpoint theory, outsider methodology, and law and economics to explore possibilities for more effectively ensuring justice for the poor and marginalized. (An earlier version of this article was presented at Law, Culture and the Humanities at Georgetown Law Center in 2007.)

Keywords: Law, Religion, Poverty, Separation, Catholic, Legal, Theory, Jurisprudence, Feminist, Outsider, Standpoint, Consciousness, Economics, Rawls, Preferential, Option

JEL Classification: I32, K10, N40

Suggested Citation

Powell, Russell, Theology in Public Reason and Legal Discourse: A Case for the Preferential Option for the Poor (2009). Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Vol. 15 (2009) ; Seattle University School of Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1111713 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1111713

Russell Powell (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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