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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 36, Issue 4, October 2010

Christopher A. Callaway
Pages 621-641

Religious Reasons in the Public Square
A Virtue-Ethical Response to the Exclusivist/Inclusivist Debate

This essay surveys some of the problems facing theories of public deliberation that are “exclusivist” insofar as they account for good participation in terms of a citizen’s refusal to use certain kinds of reasons. It then argues for a more promising alternative: one that focuses on citizens’ character rather than the content of their reasons. More specifically, it is possible to distinguish good participation from bad by considering the extent to which the citizen possesses and demonstrates the virtue of reasonableness. This virtue-based account avoids the problems facing exclusivism, while still providing a basis for evaluating civic participation.

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