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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

Jonathan Chaplin
Pages 589-602

An Institutionalist Reframing of the Religion and Public Reason Debate

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.

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