Journal of Religion 28 (3):1-30 (2012)

Jason Springs
University of Notre Dame
This essay explores the possibility that religiously motivated intolerance and conflict can be reframed and positively utilized for constructive social-political purposes. After reviewing efforts by political philosophers over the past two decades to accommodate religious voices in political discourse, I scrutinize Charles Taylor’s attempt to improve upon the limits of “accommodationist” approaches to religious intolerance and conflict. I argue that both accommodationist and Taylor’s recognition-based approaches to religiously motivated conflict take the gravity of such conflict with insufficient seriousness. I then explore the potential goods of intentional conflict by examining Chantal Mouffe’s account of agonistic pluralism as a proposal for thinking beyond tolerance as an orienting value for resolving intransigent conflict. While I argue that Mouffe’s account finally suffers from certain of the same misgivings as the accommodationist and recognition-based approaches, I conclude that agonistic pluralism’s aim to conceptually reframe (rather than eliminate) intolerance and conflict moves in an important and promising direction.
Keywords tolerance  agonistic democracy  multiculturalism  conflict  secularism  Charles Taylor  Chantal Mouffe
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