Rethinking Religious Reasons in Public Justification

ANDREW F. MARCH
AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW 107.3 (2013): 523-539

Abstract: This article intervenes in the debate on the place of religious arguments in public reason. March advances the debate not by asking whether something called “religious reasons” ought to be invoked in the justification of coercive law, but by creating a typology of a) different kinds and forms of religious arguments and, more importantly, b) different areas of political and social life which coercive laws regulate or about which human political communities deliberate. Religious arguments are of many different kinds, are offers to others in a variety of ways, and the spheres of life about which communities deliberate pose distinct moral questions. Turning back to the public reason debate, March argues that political liberals ought to be concerned about the invocation of a certain subset of religious reasons in a certain subset of areas of human activity, but also that inclusivist arguments on behalf of religious contributions to public deliberation fail to justify the use of religious arguments in all areas of public deliberation.