Religious Conservatives and Safe Sex: Reconciliation by Nonpublic Reason

19 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 24 Oct 2014

Date Written: 2012


Religious conservatives in the U.S. have frequently opposed public-health measures designed to combat STDs among minors, such as sex education, condom distribution, and HPV vaccination. Using Rawls’s method of conjecture, I will clear up what I take to be a misunderstanding on the part of religious conservatives: even if we grant their premises about the nature and source of sexual norms, the wide-ranging authority of parents to enforce these norms against their minor children, and the potential sexual-disinhibition effect of the above public-health measures, their opposition to these measures cannot be justified. In fact, their comprehensive doctrine, properly interpreted, should lead them to back such measures and thereby reach a broad policy consensus with others regarding teenage sexual health.

Keywords: religious conservatives, vaccination, nonpublic reason, Rawls

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Robert S, Religious Conservatives and Safe Sex: Reconciliation by Nonpublic Reason (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Robert S Taylor (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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