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« Day 2: Theocracy and secularism | Main | Day 3: Normativity »

Saturday, April 07, 2007


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Excellent post.

I think Dan falls into a Rawlsian hole trying to distinguish "publicly accessible" speech by citizens and officials. Linking to the American Taliban page was bad kairos given his stated goal(s).

In an attempt to add foundational theory to the debate:

Religion and Morality

It seems false that we can respect persons and at the same time tell them to leave their fundamental commitments behind in public discourse, and it seems false also that some purely rational component can be separated off from these competing substantive conceptions of the good (c.f. Wolterstorff, “An Engagement with Rorty”). It is true that religious commitment can produce the deliberate targeting of civilians in a skyscraper. But the history of the twentieth century, the bloodiest century of our history, is that non-religious totalitarian regimes have at least as much blood on their hands. Perhaps the truth is, as Kant saw, that people under the Evil Maxim will use any available ideology for their purposes. Progress towards civility is more likely if Muslims, Christians, Jews, (and Buddhists and Hindus) are encouraged to enter ‘the public square’ with their commitments explicit, and see how much common ethical ground there in fact is.


I also felt that his talk would have been easier to follow had he made clear why invocations of religion by Lincoln and Martin Luther King were good (as he seemed to think), while the singing of "God Bless America" by members of Congress on the Capitol steps after 9/11 was bad. Stout seemed to regard it as self-evidently bad, and many in the audience seemed to agree, but I think that point would have done better with more explanation.

Ernest Miller at PressThink

If we approach the question of what role religion should have in our public discourse with the assumption or premise that people are trying to eliminate religion from public discourse, we're going to have a different discussion than one simply asking what role religion should play in public discourse.

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