Rational, Reasonable, and Religious? The Role of Religion in Public Reason
The idea that the state and its actions must be justified by public reason, a form of 'natural' reason accessible to all, questions the relevance and indeed legitimacy of reasons emanating from religious faith and doctrine in public deliberation. Underlying this problem is a foundational question as to whether a constitutional state that has developed within the framework of a contractualist tradition can and should exclude a part, even a large part of its population, from expressing reasons motivated by and based on their religious beliefs. On the other hand, it has been argued that the religious are also citizens, and have a duty of reciprocity to translate their reasons into language accessible to all, including the non- or anti-religious.
In this debate, we ask: What is public reason, and to whom do its obligations apply? Must laws be justified with reasons accessible to all rational persons? Are judges subject to different, and stricter, standards of public reason as compared to legislators or voters? Is it unduly burdensome to require religious citizens to bracket part of themselves when engaging in public reasoning? Can religious perspectives be seen as providing a dimension of depth otherwise missing from democratic deliberation, or are they inherently divisive?
Professor Bruce Ackerman
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, and the author of fifteen books that have had a broad influence in political philosophy, constitutional law, and public policy. His major works include and his multivolume constitutional history, .
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, and the author of fifteen books that have had a broad influence in political philosophy, constitutional law, and public policy. His major works include Social Justice in the Liberal State and his multivolume constitutional history, We the People.
Professor Stephen Carter
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale. Among his nonfiction books are ; ; ; and .
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale. Among his nonfiction books are God's Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics; Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy; The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religion, and Loyalty; and The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion.
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