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Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 92, 2018

Philosophy, Catholicism, and Public Life

David McPherson
Pages 137-150

Humane Philosophy as Public Philosophy
A Path for Religious Engagement in Public Life

Public philosophy is typically conceived as philosophical engagement with contemporary social and political issues in the public sphere. I argue that public philosophy should also aim to engage with existential issues that arise from the human condition. In other words, we should engage in “humane philosophy.” In the first section I fill out and show the attractions of this humane conception of philosophy by contrasting it with a rival scientistic conception. In the second section I demonstrate how the practice of humane philosophy is important for engaging with contemporary social and political issues and how it offers the best path for religious engagement with these issues. Contra John Rawls and other liberal political philosophers, I argue that public engagement with controversial issues such as abortion, assisted suicide, and genetic engineering requires engaging competing existential stances and I show how this can be done.

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