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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 47, Issue 3, July 2021
Religious Diversity, Political Theory, and Theology: Public Reason and Christian Theology

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Displaying: 1-7 of 7 documents

1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Paul Billingham, Orcid-ID Jonathan Chaplin

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2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Christopher J. Eberle

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John Rawls’s articulation of what makes for justice in war includes one of his most interesting, yet least discussed, assessments of religion and state coercion. Rawls claims that “the duties of the statesman in political liberalism” are incompatible with adherence to “the Catholic doctrine of double effect” when that doctrine precludes the deliberate targeting of innocent and harmless human beings in a “supreme emergency.” I explicate Rawls’s argument in favor of that claim, articulate various theological objections, and assess some proposed restrictions on the justificatory role of religious reasons in the light of that disagreement.

3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Joshua Hordern

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This article argues that religious and other "non-public" reasoning can have a legitimate and beneficial role in justifying health-related resource allocation decisions affecting individuals, subpopulations and whole communities. Section I critically examines Norman Daniels’s exclusion of such reasoning from such justifications. Section II shows the inadequacy of Daniels’s approach to healthcare as a matter of basic justice, arguing that consensus public reason is indeterminate in certain areas of healthcare policy, including the use of life-sustaining resources and issues related to risk and responsibility. Section III shows how resource allocation decision-making can appropriately incorporate religious and "non-public" reasoning via the medical professional practice of collaborative deliberation.

4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Paul Billingham Orcid-ID

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The success of political liberalism depends on there being an overlapping consensus among reasonable citizens—including religious citizens—upon principles of political morality. This paper explores the resources within one major religion—Christianity—that might lead individuals to endorse (or reject) political liberalism, and thus to join (or not join) the overlapping consensus. I show that there are several strands within Christian political ethics that are consonant with political liberalism and might form the basis for Christian citizens’ membership of the overlapping consensus. Nonetheless, tensions remain, and it is not clear that Christians could wholeheartedly endorse the political conception or give unreserved commitment to political liberal ideals.

5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Kevin Vallier

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Christian political theologians have usually taken one of two approaches to the purpose of political order: agonist or perfectionist. Either political order should seek a civic peace between opposing forces or advance the full human good. Both approaches face difficulties, so I propose a middle-way: Christian reconciliationism. This political theology holds that political order should seek reconciliation between diverse moral perspectives. With perfectionism, reconciliationism aims to establish the political order as a moral order, but with agonism, reconciliationism rejects attempts to use the political order to promote the full human good. It thereby avoids the vices of both approaches.

6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Cécile Laborde

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The contributors to this Special Issue all suggest that Christianity is compatible with political liberalism. In this paper, I first illuminate the grounds of this compatibility. I then focus on one distinctive—yet unexplored—premise of the compatibility argument. This is the thought that religious and secular reasons are essentially on a par, in terms of their contribution to public reasoning. I critically examine Christopher Eberle’s claim that, as their epistemological status is equivalent, both secular and religious reasons may play a decisive role in justifying coercion-related state policies, including in contexts of war.

7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Jonathan Chaplin

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Responding to the preceding four articles, this piece presents a theologically-informed ‘institutionalist’ perspective on the debate within political liberalism over religion and public reason. Institutionalism calls for greater attention to the normative purpose and structural design of political institutions in order better to frame what political deliberation in a liberal democracy should look like. Eschewing any ‘idealization’ of citizens, and favouring an ‘argumentative’ account of democratic deliberation, it explores what public reasoning should consist in when viewed as an empirical practice occurring within actual political institutions. Five features of my account of institutionalism are outlined, followed by three implications of that account for the religion and public reason debate.