The roles of religious conviction in a publicly justified polity: The implications of convergence, asymmetry and political institutions

Gerald F. Gaus, Kevin Vallier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Scopus citations


We discuss whether religious reasons may be appealed to in justification and political debate in a polity whose laws must be justified to those subject to them in terms of reasons that are accessible to one and all. We argue that, properly understood, a commitment to public justification provides no grounds for the exclusion of religious reasons from politics. We trace the view that religious reasons are excluded from public reason to three basic errors: (1) the error of supposing that public justification must be based on shared reasons; (2) the error of supposing that in public justification the same constraints apply to reasons to impose coercion and reasons to resist coercion; and (3) the error of supposing that generating publicly justified laws must occur through public deliberations in which all aim at such laws.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-76
Number of pages26
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009



  • Liberalism
  • Pluralism
  • Public justification
  • Public reason
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science

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