What are Conscientious Exemptions Really About?
Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Forthcoming
Posted: 3 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 1, 2013
The main argument of this article is that granting conscientious exemptions is best understood as the outcome of tolerance than as a way of applying the idea of equality. It is also argued that perceiving the right to be granted conscientious exemptions (if such a right indeed exists) as either an individual right, a communal right, a minority right or a means of applying affirmative action would fail, in too many cases, to describe correctly the practice of granting conscientious exemptions.
Finally, granting conscientious exemptions is better understood as the outcome of tolerance than as a way of applying the idea of equality. The principle of tolerance successfully describes the practice of granting conscientious exemptions in almost all cases. It offers the best description of the state of mind and the behaviour of the state and it is wide yet precise enough to accommodate all the other — however contradictory — explanations.
Keywords: conscientious exemptions, tolerance, equality
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