Religious Reasons in the Political Public Sphere: A Reinterpretation of Rawlsian Political Liberalism
My thesis project is a critical examination of the place of religious reasons in the political public sphere of liberal democracies. I will focus primarily on the critical discussions around Rawls’s political liberalism and Habermas’s postsecularism. I will show that Rawls’s conception of the moral duty to provide public reasons independent of one’s comprehensive worldviews is a better candidate for practices of political justification and the basis of political legitimacy than approaches that reject any restraint on one’s religious or secular comprehensive worldviews in processes of public political deliberation. In particular, I will address the issue of how the state should respond to religious demands to support specific religious practices. In this respect, by pointing out the inadequacy of Rawls’s political liberalism in determining a clear and principled relationship between the state and religion, I will suggest a reinterpretation of Rawlsian political liberalism from the perspective of republican secularism. I will claim that the particular constitution of modern life requires neutrality of common public spaces. Republican secularism can protect the neutrality of common public spaces in accordance with the Rawlsian notion of priority of the right over the good, which provides a principled political justification of restrictions over the accommodation of religious claims.