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The Priority of Public Reasons and Religious Forms of Life in Constitutional Democracies

Cristina Lafont

Abstract

In this essay I address the difficult question of how citizens with conflicting religious and secular views can fulfill the democratic obligation of justifying the imposition of coercive policies to others with reasons that they can also accept. After discussing the difficulties of proposals that either exclude religious beliefs from public deliberation or include them without any restrictions, I argue instead for a policy of mutual accountability that imposes the same deliberative rights and obligations on all democratic citizens. The main advantage of this proposal is that it recognizes the right of all democratic citizens to adopt their own cognitive stance (whether religious or secular) in political deliberation in the public sphere without giving up on the democratic obligation to provide reasons acceptable to everyone to justify coercive policies with which all citizens must comply.

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