Second, Rawls places significant restrictions on the content of thesecular reasons to which an agent may appeal. To advert to a point madeearlier, Rawls argues that when deliberating about matters of basicjustice and constitutional essentials, citizens should appeal to“public reason,” which (roughly speaking) is a fund ofshared principles about justice and the common good that is constructedfrom the shared political culture of a liberaldemocracy—principles that concern, for example, the equality ofcitizens before the law and their right to a fair system ofcooperation. In Rawls' view, when deliberating about these matters,appealing solely to secular comprehensive accounts of the good such asAristotelianism or utilitarianism is no more legitimate than appealingsolely to religious reasons. For all of these comprehensive doctrineswill be alien to some of one's reasonable compatriots.
First, Rawls' own position about the relation between coercive lawand religious reasons has shifted. In Political Liberalism,Rawls admits that at one point he inclined toward accepting anambitious version of the DRR according to which each citizen of aliberal democracy ought not to appeal to religious reasons whendeliberating about matters of basic justice and constitutionalessentials (see Rawls 1993, 247 n.36). In the face of criticism, Rawlsmodified his position, arriving at a close relative of the DRR, viz.,that while an agent may appeal to religious reasons to justify coercivelaw, he may not appeal solely to these reasons. Secular reasons must beforthcoming (see Rawls 1997).
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Once you have a working thesis statement, what do you do with it? Your clearly stated thesis should suggest to you some ideas for organizing your information, so now may be a good time to discuss outlining. If you can’t think of how to organize your essay at this point, you can always use one of the techniques mentioned for getting started, such as the journalist’s questions, brainstorming, or freewriting.
Many writers use a checklist to evaluate the appropriateness of their chosen thesis statement. Sometimes it’s a good idea to have someone else read your thesis statement and give you feedback. Your thesis statement is effective if you can answer yes to these questions:
In the first stage, the New Traditionalistsmaintain that the late ancient and the high medieval thinkers of thewest embraced a unified philosophical vision that includes threefundamental components. The first component is a commitment to a“thick” teleological account of the human good, according to whichhuman beings have rational natures that can be perfected. Thesecond component is a commitment to the claim that virtue consists inthe perfection of our rational nature in both its practical andtheoretical dimensions. Practical reason, according to thevision, can ascertain not merely the means to achieve one's ends, butalso the very telos or end for human beings. And theoreticalreason, so the vision has it, can gain genuine insight into the worldby viewing the entire created order as participating in or resemblingthe divine nature. The third component of the vision is thatmoral thought and discourse should be framed primarily in terms of thevirtues—the virtues providing the dominant conceptuality interms of which we conduct moral reasoning. To which it is worthadding the following point: advocates of the MacIntyrean narrative donot deny that pre-modern societies had their share of moral, religious,and political problems. Their claim is merely that thesesocieties enjoyed (at least in principle) the shared conceptualresources with which they could coherently address and remedythem.
Suppose Stout is right to say thatNew Traditionalists such as John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, andStanley Hauerwas are widely influential in the academy andelsewhere. Should they be taken seriously by politicalphilosophers? That depends on what one understands the role ofpolitical philosophers to be. Suppose, however, we assume thatpolitical philosophers should be multidisciplinary in orientation,engaging with what sociologists, psychologists, and theologians writeand say. If we assume this, then taking a multidisciplinaryapproach in this case seems to make sense. The topic underconsideration, after all, is the relation between religion andpolitics, and theologians have had much to say about theirinterrelations. Furthermore, while the approach that the NewTraditionalists take to our topic is different from that taken by theadvocates of the standard view—the New Traditionalists tell ahistorical narrative about the ills of liberal democracy—thenarrative that they tell is a philosophical one. Indeed, it is anarrative whose main lines will be familiar to most philosophersworking in ethics and political philosophy. It is natural to wantto know whether this historical-philosophical narrative survivesphilosophical scrutiny. We shall close, then, by considering thenarrative that the New Traditionalists tell about the emergence ofmodern liberal democracies, highlighting the response offered to it bythe liberal critics.
To this point, we have been primarily concerned to articulate thestandard view and lay out the response offered to it by its liberalcritics. We have emphasized that there are important differencesbetween these two views. While not trivial, these differences shouldnot be exaggerated, however. Both views are deeply committed to thecore components of liberal democracy, including the protection ofbasic freedoms such as the freedom to practice religion as one seesfit. Furthermore, both views recognize the legitimacy of religiousreasons in political deliberation, noting the role of such reasons inimportant social movements such as the civil rights movement. The maindifference between advocates of the standard view and their liberalcritics, we've contended, is how they view thejustificatory role of these reasons. That said, the liberalcritics are not the only or even the most influential critics of thestandard view. Indeed, if the central argument of Jeffrey Stout'sbook Democracy and Tradition is correct, the standard viewhas generated a worrisome backlash among prominent Christiantheologians and political theorists. These theologians and politicaltheorists, who Stout labels the New Traditionalists, rejectnot only the standard view, but also liberal democracy assuch—their assumption being that the standard view is a more orless inevitable outgrowth of liberal democracy. In spite of theirfairly radical position, Stout contends that these thinkers need to betaken seriously by the friends of democracy, as they exerciseconsiderable influence in certain sectors of the academy and theculture at large.
Although the convergent variation of the standard view will likelybe more attractive to liberal critics than familiar alternatives, theystill have reason to be skeptical. The convergent conception of thestandard view is, after all, demanding: state coercion must pass musterbefore the bar of religious and secular reasons. However, many citizenswill have compelling reasons to reject core liberal commitments. Itfollows that, according to the convergence view, those liberalcommitments will lack justification. If so, liberal critics have reasonto reject the convergent view, not because of its implications forreligion but for liberalism. Consider in this regard the case of Qtubtreated earlier. Qtub seems to have articulated compelling theologicalobjections to the right to religious freedom, and thus articulatedcompelling theological reasons to deny that the state may coercivelyenforce that right. In this case, the state's enforcement of the rightto religious freedom seems, according to the convergent conception, tolack legitimacy.
In any liberal polity, there will inevitably be some secularcitizens. If there is nothing to be said from any secularperspective that decisively justifies some coercive measure, and if theonly plausible rationale for that coercive measure is a religiousrationale, then there will inevitably be some citizens to whom thatcoercive measure cannot be justified. According to the view underconsideration, such a coercive measure would be disrespectful and soillegitimate. So the convergent variation on the standard viewmaintains the core conviction that religious considerations cannotdecisively justify state coercion in pluralistic liberalpolitics. The implications for the duties of religious citizensseem direct: they ought to restrain themselves from supporting any actof state coercion that they know cannot be justified other than byreligious reasons. That is, they must comply with the DRR. IfGaus and Vallier are correct, then, commitment to equal treatment ofreligion is entirely consistent with a version of the DRR. (Gaus andVallier, it is worth noting, reject the DRR as an account of the dutiesof citizens, accepting only a milder version that applies to certainpublic officials in certain circumstances.)