Conjecture and the Division of Justificatory Labour: A Comment on Clayton and Stevens

Res Publica 25 (1):119-125 (2019)
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Abstract

Clayton and Stevens argue that political liberals should engage with the religiously unreasonable by offering religious responses and showing that their religious views are mistaken, instead of refusing to engage with them. Yet they recognize that political liberals will face a dilemma due to such religious responses: either their responses will alienate certain reasonable citizens, or their engagements will appear disingenuous. Thus, there should be a division of justificatory labour. The duty of engagement should be delegated to religious citizens. In this comment, I will argue that the division of justificatory labour is indefensible. This dilemma can be avoided if politicians and political philosophers correctly use conjecture, a form of discourse that involves non-public reason. As a conditional response, conjecture avoids alienating any reasonable citizens. Also, if conjecture is given in a sincere and open-minded manner, then the problem of disingenuousness can be overcome. My comment concludes that while the engagement of politicians and political philosophers does not necessarily jeopardize overlapping consensus, they should be permitted, or perhaps even required, to engage with the religiously unreasonable due to the natural duty of justice.

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Author's Profile

Baldwin Wong
Hong Kong Baptist University

References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Liberalism Without Perfection.Jonathan Quong - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
Political Liberalism: Expanded Edition.John Rawls - 2005 - Columbia University Press.
Political Liberalism.Stephen Mulhall - 1994 - Philosophical Quarterly 44 (177):542-545.

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