Religion And Political Theory: DDR…..

First, the DRR is a
moral constraint, one
that applies to people
in virtue of the fact
that they are citizens
of a liberal democracy.
As such, it need not be
encoded into law,
enforced by state
coercion or social
stigma, promoted in
state educational
institutions, or in any
other way policed by
the powers that be. Of
course, advocates of
restraint are free to
argue that the state
should police violations
of the DRR (see
[5]Habermas 2006, 10).
Perhaps some liberal
democracies do police
something like the DRR.
But advocates of the
standard view needn’t
endorse restrictions of
[6]this sort.
Second, the DRR does
not require a
privatization of
religious commitment.
Indeed, the DRR
permits religious
considerations to play
a rather prominent role
in a citizen’s political
practice: citizens are
permitted to vote for
their favored coercive
policies on exclusively
religious grounds as
well as to advocate
publicly for those
policies on religious
grounds. What the DRR
does require of
citizens is that they
reasonably believe
that they have some
plausible secular
rationale for each of
the coercive laws that
they support, which
they are prepared to
offer in political
discussion. In this
respect, the present
construal of the DRR is
weaker than
comparable proposals,
such as that developed
by Robert Audi, which
requires that each
citizen have and be
motivated by some
evidentially adequate
secular rationale for
each of the coercive
laws he or she
supports (see Audi
1997, 138 and Rawls
1997, 784ff).
Third, the DRR places
few restrictions on the
content of the secular
reasons to which
citizens can appeal
when supporting
coercive laws. Although
the required secular
reasons must be
“plausible” (more on
this in a moment), they
may make essential
reference to what
Rawls calls
conceptions of the
good,” such as
Platonism, Kantianism,
[7]or utilitarianism.
Accordingly, the
standard view does
not commit itself to a
position according to
which secular reasons
must be included or
otherwise grounded in
a neutral source—a set
of principles regarding
justice and the common
good such that
everybody has good
reason, apart from his
own or any other
religious or
perspective, to find
acceptable. Somewhat
more specifically,
advocates of the
standard view needn’t
claim that secular
reasons must be found
in what Rawls calls
“public reason,” which
(roughly speaking) is a
fund of shared
principles about justice
and the common good
constructed from the
shared political culture
of a liberal democracy.
That having been said,
it is worth stressing
that some prominent
advocates of the
standard view adopt a
broadly Rawlsian
account of the DRR,
according to which
coercive laws must be
justified by appeal to
public reason (see
Gutmann and Thompson
1996, Larmore 1987,
Macedo 1990, and
Nussbaum 2008). We
shall have more to say
about this view in
section 6.
Fourth, the DRR itself
has no determinate
policy implications; it is
a constraint not on
legislation itself, but on
the configuration of
reasons to which
agents may appeal
when supporting
coercive legislation. So,
for example, it forbids
Rick to support the
criminalization of
homosexuality when he
believes that there are
no plausible secular
reasons to criminalize
it. As such, the moral
propriety of the DRR
has nothing directly to
do with its usefulness
in furthering, or
discouraging, particular
policy aims.
The DRR, then, is a
norm that is supposed
to provide guidance for
how citizens of a liberal
democracy should
conduct themselves
when deliberating
about the
implementation of
coercive laws. For our
purposes, it will be
helpful to work with a
canonical formulation of
it. Let us, then,
formulate the DRR as
The DRR: a
citizen of a
democracy may
support the
of a coercive
law L just in
case he
believes himself
to have a
justification for
L, which he is
prepared to
offer in political
About this formulation
of the DRR, let us make
two points. First, in
what follows, we will
remain largely
noncommittal about
what the qualifier
“plausible” means, as
advocates of the
standard view
understand it in
different ways. For
present purposes, we
will simply assume that
a plausible rationale is
one that epistemically
and morally competent
peers will take
seriously as a basis
for supporting a
coercive law. Second,
according to this
formulation of the DRR,
a citizen can comply
with the DRR even if he
himself is not
persuaded to support
a coercive law for any
secular reason. What
matters is that he
believes that he has
and can offer a secular
rationale that his
secular cohorts can
take seriously.
Suppose, then, we
have an adequate
working conception of
the DRR. The question
naturally arises: Why
do advocates of the
standard view maintain
that we should conform
to the DRR? For
several reasons, most
prominent of which are
the following three


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