Wagering on Religious Freedom

23 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2006


Why is religious freedom valuable? This is a basic question necessarily presupposed in any discussion of the free exercise clause or other legal protections for freedom of religion. In this paper, I argue that at present American jurisprudence lacks a coherent theory of religious freedom. In the beginning, the arguments for religious liberty were cast in explicitly theological terms. In a pluralistic age, however, these theological arguments lack any real traction. Using Pascal's wager as an analogy, however, it is possible to recast the theological justification for religious freedom in terms suitable for a pluralistic society. Indeed, the argument can be formalized into a simple economic claim: religious liberty is Kaldor-Hicks efficient.

Keywords: Law & Economics, Law & Religion, Religious Freedom, Pascal

Suggested Citation

Oman, Nathan B., Wagering on Religious Freedom. Harvard Law Review, Vol. 116, No. 3, p. 946, 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=886096

Nathan B. Oman (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nathanoman.com

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