A critique of foundationalist conceptions of comprehensive doctrines in the religion in politics-debate

This paper comprises a critical examination of foundationalist conceptions of comprehensive doctrines in the religion in politics-debate. I argue that John Rawls, the towering figure of this debate, operates with a foundationalist conception of comprehensive doctrines that has shaped the debate’s view of relevant alternatives (often referred to as exclusivism and inclusivism). However, there are several problems with foundationalist conceptions, and the most serious is that they are empirically inadequate in relation to modern Western societies. I conclude that participants of the exclusivist/inclusivist debate ought to look closer at alternative, non-foundationalist conceptions, and I supply a brief sketch of one such approach, inspired by American pragmatism.
Keywords Rawls  Comprehensive doctrines  Religion in politics  Exclusivism  Inclusivism  Pragmatism
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    John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
    Michael Sandel (2003). Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. In Derek Matravers & Jonathan E. Pike (eds.), Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Routledge, in Association with the Open University.

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