Public Reason and Religion: The Theo-Ethical Equilibrium Argument for Restraint

Law and Philosophy 36 (6):675-705 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Most public reason theorists believe that citizens are under a ‘duty of restraint’. Citizens must refrain from supporting laws for which they have only non-public reasons, such as religious reasons. The theo-ethical equilibrium argument purports to show that theists should accept this duty, on the basis of their religious convictions. Theists’ beliefs about God’s nature should lead them to doubt moral claims for which they cannot find secular grounds, and to refrain from imposing such claims upon others. If successful, this argument would defuse prominent objections to public reason liberalism. This paper assesses the theo-ethical equilibrium argument, with a specific focus on Christian citizens. I argue that Christians should seek theo-ethical equilibrium, but need not endorse the duty of restraint. I establish this in part through examining the important theological concept of natural law. That discussion also points to more general and persistent problems with defining ‘public reasons’.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,480

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Consensus, Convergence, Restraint, and Religion.Paul Billingham - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (3):345-361.
Liberalism, Religion And Integrity.Kevin Vallier - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):149 - 165.
Public Justification Versus Public Deliberation: The Case for Divorce.Kevin Vallier - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (2):139-158.
Religion, Pacifism, and the Doctrine of Restraint.Christopher J. Eberle - 2006 - Journal of Religious Ethics 34 (2):203-224.
Against Public Reason Liberalism's Accessibility Requirement.Kevin Vallier - 2011 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (3):366-389.
Sincerity and Reconciliation in Public Reason.Richard M. Buck - 2001 - Social Philosophy Today 17:21-35.
Public Reason and Prenatal Moral Status.Jeremy Williams - 2015 - The Journal of Ethics 19 (1):23-52.
In Defence of Intelligible Reasons in Public Justification.Kevin Vallier - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (264):596-616.
Basic Human Worth and Religious Restraint.Christopher J. Eberle - 2009 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (1-2):151-181.
Sincerity and Reconciliation in Public Reason.Richard M. Buck - 2001 - Social Philosophy Today 17:21-35.
Enlightenment and Freedom.Jonathan Peterson - 2008 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (2):pp. 223-244.


Added to PP

19 (#582,823)

6 months
2 (#277,475)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Paul Billingham
Oxford University

References found in this work

Religion in the Public Sphere.Jurgen Habermas - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14 (1):1–25.
Religion in the Public Sphere.Jürgen Habermas - 2005 - Philosophia Africana 8 (2):99-109.
Epistemic Foundations of Political Liberalism.Fabienne Peter - 2013 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (5):598-620.
Religion in the Public Square: The Place of Religious Convictions in Political Debate.Philip L. Quinn - 1997 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 60 (2):486-489.

View all 15 references / Add more references