Democracy Without Secularism: A Pragmatist Critique of Habermas

Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10756/291166
Title:
Democracy Without Secularism: A Pragmatist Critique of Habermas
Authors:
Mullin, Daniel Michael
Abstract:
Jürgen Habermas has argued that democracy depends on all citizens recognizing the legitimacy of the law. Therefore, political argument must appeal only to public reason which is secular. Religious citizens must translate their reasons into a secular language accessible to the public. This dissertation argues that religious arguments are justified in public discourse if they refrain from dogmatism. Moreover, there is nothing inherent in secular reasons that make them publicly accessible or likely to generate consensus among members of a pluralistic society. If we treat religious arguments as simply arguments with controversial premises, it becomes less clear why religious arguments are singled out as particularly problematic for liberal democracies, since many secular political arguments share this feature. Granted, religious reasons are unlikely to secure consensus, but this does not count against them if consensus is not the goal of democratic discourse. This dissertation makes the case that Habermas, and other liberal theorists such as Rawls, have placed too much emphasis on consensus as the goal of democracy. Moreover, what they refer to is not practical consensus achieved pragmatically through compromise, but an idealized consensus that is the achievement of secular reason. This is problematic for two main reasons: there is no normative reason to think we ought to attain such consensus and such consensus is unlikely to be achieved in practice. Thus, there seems to be no normative force to the claim that religious citizens out to translate their arguments in secular language.
Advisors:
Kuipers, Ronald A.; van der Merwe, W. L.
Affiliation:
Institute for Christian Studies
Publisher:
Institute for Christian Studies
Issue Date:
Dec-2012
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10756/291166
Type:
Thesis
Language:
en
Keywords:
Habermas, Jürgen; Democracy; Religion and politics; Taylor, Charles; Rawls, John, 1921-2002; Secularization; Secularism
Rights:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/
Rights holder:
This Work has been made available by the authority of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private study and research and may not be copied or reproduced except as permitted by the copyright laws of Canada without the written authority from the copyright owner.
Degree Title:
Conjoint Ph.D. by the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto and the VU University Amsterdam
Appears in Collections:
Doctoral Theses

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.advisorKuipers, Ronald A.en_GB
dc.contributor.advisorvan der Merwe, W. L.en_GB
dc.contributor.authorMullin, Daniel Michaelen_GB
dc.date.accessioned2013-05-15T16:34:40Z-
dc.date.available2013-05-15T16:34:40Z-
dc.date.availableNO_RESTRICTIONen_GB
dc.date.issued2012-12-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10756/291166-
dc.description.abstractJürgen Habermas has argued that democracy depends on all citizens recognizing the legitimacy of the law. Therefore, political argument must appeal only to public reason which is secular. Religious citizens must translate their reasons into a secular language accessible to the public. This dissertation argues that religious arguments are justified in public discourse if they refrain from dogmatism. Moreover, there is nothing inherent in secular reasons that make them publicly accessible or likely to generate consensus among members of a pluralistic society. If we treat religious arguments as simply arguments with controversial premises, it becomes less clear why religious arguments are singled out as particularly problematic for liberal democracies, since many secular political arguments share this feature. Granted, religious reasons are unlikely to secure consensus, but this does not count against them if consensus is not the goal of democratic discourse. This dissertation makes the case that Habermas, and other liberal theorists such as Rawls, have placed too much emphasis on consensus as the goal of democracy. Moreover, what they refer to is not practical consensus achieved pragmatically through compromise, but an idealized consensus that is the achievement of secular reason. This is problematic for two main reasons: there is no normative reason to think we ought to attain such consensus and such consensus is unlikely to be achieved in practice. Thus, there seems to be no normative force to the claim that religious citizens out to translate their arguments in secular language.en_GB
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf-
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherInstitute for Christian Studiesen_GB
dc.rightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported-
dc.rights.urihttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/-
dc.subjectHabermas, Jürgenen_GB
dc.subjectDemocracyen_GB
dc.subjectReligion and politicsen_GB
dc.subjectTaylor, Charlesen_GB
dc.subjectRawls, John, 1921-2002en_GB
dc.subjectSecularizationen_GB
dc.subjectSecularismen_GB
dc.subject.lcshDemocracy--Religious aspects--Christianityen_GB
dc.subject.lcshReligion and politicsen_GB
dc.subject.lcshSecularismen_GB
dc.subject.lcshSecularizationen_GB
dc.titleDemocracy Without Secularism: A Pragmatist Critique of Habermasen
dc.typeThesisen
dc.contributor.departmentInstitute for Christian Studiesen_GB
dc.type.degreetitleConjoint Ph.D. by the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto and the VU University Amsterdamen_GB
dc.rights.holderThis Work has been made available by the authority of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private study and research and may not be copied or reproduced except as permitted by the copyright laws of Canada without the written authority from the copyright owner.en_GB
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