How Religious Arbitration Could Enhance Personal Autonomy
Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2012), pp. 424–445
42 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2012 Last revised: 16 May 2013
Date Written: June 4, 2012
The public debate on religious arbitration often assumes that certain liberal autonomy-based arguments against state recognition of religious arbitration in family law matters are conclusive, ie that religious arbitration necessarily harms personal autonomy. This article challenges that assumption and highlights the autonomy-enhancing potential of religious arbitration. We argue that the state recognition of religious arbitration has the potential to enhance autonomy by facilitating the option of religious practice. We argue that religious arbitration has the potential to enhance the autonomy of religious persons by providing them access to religious expertise. Finally, we indicate how the recognition of religious arbitration protects the autonomy of some by keeping them from a possible autonomy-diminishing alternative.
Keywords: religious arbitration, religious freedom, sharia, personal autonomy, family law, religious tribunals, shariah, legal pluralism
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