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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 29, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2009

Elizabeth A. Barre
Pages 219-241
DOI: 10.5840/jsce200929137

Within Reason
The Epistemic Foundations of Catholic and Muslim Arguments for Political Liberalism

THIS ESSAY ARGUES THAT JUDGMENTS ABOUT THE NATURE AND function of human reason play analogous (though not identical) roles in Catholic and Muslim arguments for political liberalism. Focusing on the works of John Courtney Murray and three contemporary Muslim reformers, I note three similarities. First, thinkers in both traditions argue that it is humankind's unique ability to reason about the moral law that constitutes our dignity and provides the foundation for the right to religious liberty. Second, this ability to reason is what allows us to provide the publicly accessible justifications that the liberal principle of reciprocity seems to require. Finally, all four authors argue that their attempts to reform or develop their traditions are dependent upon and required by the dictates of human reason.

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