Public Reason, Religious Restraint and Respect

Philosophia 40 (2):179-193 (2012)
Abstract
In recent years liberals have had much to say about the kinds of reasons that citizens should offer one another when they engage in public political debates about existing or proposed laws. One of the more notable claims that has been made by a number of prominent liberals is that citizens should not rely on religious reasons alone when persuading one another to support or oppose a given law or policy. Unsurprisingly, this claim is rejected by many religious citizens, including those who are also committed to liberalism. In this paper I revisit that debate and ask whether liberal citizens have a moral obligation not to explain their support for existing or proposed laws on the basis of religious reasons alone. I suggest that for most (ordinary) citizens no such obligation exists and that individuals are entitled to explain their support for a specific law and to persuade others of the merits of that law on the basis of religious reasons alone (though there may be sound prudential reasons for not doing so). My argument is grounded in the claim that in most instances advocating laws on the basis of religious reasons alone is consistent with treating citizens with equal respect. However, I acknowledge an exception to that claim is to be found when using religious reasons to justify a law also implies that the state endorses those reasons. For this reason I argue that there is a moral obligation for some (publicly influential) citizens, and especially those who hold public office, to refrain from explaining their support for existing or proposed laws on the basis of religious reasons. I conclude by suggesting that this understanding of the role of religion in public political discourse and the obligations of liberal citizens is a better reflection of our experience of liberal citizenship than that given in some well-known accounts of liberalism.
Keywords Justification  Liberalism  Public Reason  Religion
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA
    Amy Gutmann (1996). Democracy and Disagreement. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

    View all 12 references

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    John H. Chandler (2010). Religious Reasons and Public Policy. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (2):137-152.
    Kevin Vallier (2012). Liberalism, Religion And Integrity. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):149 - 165.
    Mathias Thaler (2009). From Public Reason to Reasonable Accommodation: Negotiating the Place of Religion in the Public Sphere. Diacrítica. Revista Do Centro de Estudos Humanísticos da Universidade de Minho 23 (2):249-270.
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2011-12-27

    Total downloads

    13 ( #100,585 of 1,089,154 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,735 of 1,089,154 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.