Rethinking Religious Reasons in Public Justification
American Political Science Review, Vol. 107, No. 3 (August 2013) pp. 523-539.
46 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2013 Last revised: 3 Jan 2014
Date Written: February 14, 2013
This paper intervenes in the debate on the place of religious arguments in public reason. I advance the debate not by asking whether something called “religious reasons” ought to be invoked in the justification of coercive laws, but by creating a typology of (a) different kinds and modes of religious arguments and, more importantly, (b) different areas of human and social life which coercive laws regulate or about which human political communities deliberate. Religious arguments are of many different kinds, are offered to others in a variety of ways, and the spheres of life about which communities deliberate pose distinct moral question. Turning back to the public reason debate, I argue then that liberals ought to be concerned only about the invocation of a certain subset of religious reasons only in a certain subset of areas of human activity, but also that inclusivist arguments on behalf of religious contributions to public deliberation both fail to explain the moral appeal of religious arguments and fail to justify the use of religious arguments in all areas of public deliberation.
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