Volume 11, 2001
Social and Political Philosophy
James P. Sterba
Reconciling Public Reason and Religious Values
Philosophers who hold that religious considerations should play some role in public debate over fundamental issues have criticized Rawls’s ideal of public reason for being too restrictive in generally ruling out such considerations. In response, Rawls has modified his ideal so as to explicitly allow a role for religious considerations in public debate (others, such as Robert Audi, have also offered accounts of public reason along similar lines). Nevertheless, some critics of Rawls’s ideal of public reason, such as Nicholas Wolterstorff, remain unsatisfied. In this paper, I will argue that once Rawls’s ideal of public reason is correctly interpreted, it will be possible to reconcile that ideal with much of the role its critics want religion to have in public debate.