Equality for Infidels: The Moral Foundations of Modern Liberalism

Dissertation, University of Michigan (2000)

Craig Duncan
Ithaca College
At the heart of modern liberalism is an ideal of religious equality, according to which religious minorities should be granted the same civil and political rights as the religious majority. So basic is this ideal to modern liberalism that liberals often take it for granted. This is a mistake: in fact the case in favor of religious equality is far from obvious. ;In order to stir liberals from their complacency, I define a stark challenge to religious equality, one I call "the challenge of salvific exclusivism." Salvific exclusivists are people who believe that salvation lies in their religion alone; thus they believe that religious error threatens the eternal welfare of their fellow citizens. Religious error, though, flourishes in a regime of religious equality. Why should salvific exclusivists support such a regime? ;This is no idle challenge. I argue that the New Testament itself strongly supports salvific exclusivism; prima facie, nothing less than the compatibility of Christianity and liberalism is at stake. I also show that in a wide range of cases familiar pragmatic arguments offered in favor of religious equality fail to meet the challenge of salvific exclusivism. The same is true of consequentialist arguments generally. But if these fail, what might succeed? ;The answer I propose lies in an ideal of respect for mature human agency. I argue we can learn about the content of this ideal by examining the plight of children, for children are not yet mature human agents. This examination reveals an obligation to make our grounds for imposing burdens on our fellow citizens publicly accessible. I then argue, in a non-skeptical fashion, that the most commonly held grounds for religious belief are publicly inaccessible. Not all grounds for religious belief are publicly inaccessible, however; thus a degree of skepticism is necessary toward these. A respect-based case for religious equality, I conclude, has a more complex structure than it is usually thought to have. I end by discussing the implications of this complexity
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The Persecutor's Wager.Craig Duncan - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (1):1-50.

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