Religious pluralism and democratic society: Political liberalism and the reasonableness of religious beliefs

Philosophy and Social Criticism 25 (4):43-56 (1999)
Critics of John Rawls' conception of a reasonable pluralism have raised the question of whether it is justified to demand that religious individuals should 'bracket' their essential, identity-constituting convictions when they enter a political discourse. I will argue that the criterion for religious beliefs of being justified as grounds for political decisions should be their ability of being 'translatable' in secular reasons for the very same decisions. This translation would demand 'epistemic abstinence' from religious believers only on the basis of a rigid distinction between the spheres of private opinions and public reasons. To give a more adequate account of the relation between religious beliefs and political reasons in a pluralistic society it seems to be helpful to make use of Niklas Luhmann's functionalistic theory of religion. Key Words: democracy and religious beliefs • philosophy of religion • pluralism • political liberalism • political theory.
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DOI 10.1177/019145379902500403
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