The Conflicting Truths of Religion and Democracy

Social Philosophy Today 21:65-80 (2005)
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This paper suggests that the truths of religion and democracy are, respectively, theocracy and moral relativism. Religion tends toward theocracy, the thesis that religiously influenced political norms should trump secular norms. Democracy tends toward moral relativism, the thesis that society lacks agreed upon standards by which the varying and conflicting moral views therein may be adjudicated. The conflict between religion and democracy is thus unavoidable: theocracy insists that any conflict with democracy be decided in favor of the religious principles in question; and the moral relativism engendered by democracy cannot be tolerated by religion. The recommendation is to act in accordance with principles that will ease the conflict by strengthening tendencies counter to the two, namely the principle of chaos (which mitigates the effects of religion) and the principle of order (which serves to mitigate the effects of democracy).



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Frank Cunningham
Last affiliation: University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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