Constellations 19 (2):267-287 (2012)

Roberto Frega
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
This paper explores the epistemological impact of the idea of post-secularism on the concept of public reason. It does so by examining a strand of the Rawls-Habermas debate on the role of religious beliefs within public reason. The paper identifies a difficulty in the liberal solution that depends upon the unwillingness to challenge the proviso-like conception of public reason and contends that this difficulty is overcome neither by Habermas’ “institutional” version of proviso nor by Cristina Lafont’s version of “mutual accountability” proviso. Once acknowledged this blind spot in the theory of public reason, the paper proceeds to show that a pragmatist-based conception of public reason can overcome this shortcoming as it grants to religious beliefs a role that does not compromise the liberal ethics of citizenship while at the same time does not frustrate the communitarian and religious call for a less restrictive conception of the public sphere. The conclusion this paper brings home is that a proviso-free public reason is necessary for tackling the theoretical challenge of defending liberalism in a post-secular society.
Keywords John Dewey  Jurgen Habermas  Christina Lafont  Normative Practices
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DOI 10.1111/cons.2012.19.issue-2
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