Volume 19, Issue 1, 2019
An Egalitarian Defence
This paper offers a distinctively egalitarian defence of religious accommodation in contrast to the rights-based approaches of contemporary legal thinking. It argues that we can employ the Rawlsian idea of a fair framework of co-operation to model the way that accommodation claimants reason with others (such as their employers) when they wish to be released from generally applicable rules. While participants in social institutions have ‘framework obligations’ to adhere to the rules those institutions involve, they also have ‘democratic obligations’ to re-consider and on occasion revise those rules which set back participants basic interest, including individuals’ interest in manifesting their religion or belief. A number of objections to accommodation are considered, and it’s argued that the personal responsibility objection is most serious. It’s argued that responsibility can be interpreted through the notion of identification which in turn can be conceptualised through the ideal of integrity, and that the value of integrity in fact counts in favour of accommodation claims. The paper also offers replies to other objections to religious accommodation including the problem of proliferation, the problem of illiberal beliefs and the rewarding the doctrinaire objection.