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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

Christopher J. Eberle
Pages 457-484

Irreconcilable Disagreement
Supreme Emergency, Respect, and Restraint

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.

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