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Volume 25 • Number 4

October 2011



Consensus, Convergence, and Religiously Justified Coercion

by Christopher J. Eberle

The last several decades have witnessed a vibrant discussion about the proper political role of religion in pluralistic liberal democracies. An important part of that discussion has been a dispute about the role that religious and secular reasons properly play in the justification of state coercion. Most of the theorists who have participated in that discussion have endorsed a restrictive understanding of the justificatory role available to religious reasons. Most importantly, advocates of that restrictive understanding deny that state coercion that depends for its justification on religious considerations is morally legitimate. This standard, restrictive view can be formulated in various importantly different ways. All versions affirm certain core claims—that we ought to respect each human being and that proper respect for each human being requires that state coercion be justified to the coerced. But thereafter advocates of the standard view disagree about how to fill in the details. In this paper, I will focus on one "detail" that is both central to the standard view and also a source of much disagreement among its advocates, viz., what makes it the case that state coercion is justified to the coerced?

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Public Affairs Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-0542