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New Perspectives on Distributive Justice

Deep Disagreements, Pluralism, and the Problem of Consensus

Ed. by Knoll, Manuel / Snyder, Stephen / Şimsek, Nurdane

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November 2018
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Habermas’s and Rawls’s Postsecular Modesty

Bailey, Tom


This essay examines neglected aspects of Jürgen Habermas’s account of “translating”, or “learning”, from religions and John Rawls’s account of religious contributions to public reasoning under the “proviso” and by “conjecture”. It argues that these aspects imply that the secular grounds to which Habermas and Rawls otherwise appeal - deliberative rationality and mutual respect, respectively - have no ultimate authority over religion and, indeed, that, like religions, these grounds presuppose an unjustifiable “faith” in their own possibility. The essay also argues that Rawls pursues this postsecular “modesty” further than Habermas, insofar as, unlike Habermas, Rawls conceives of secular grounds as a contingent and dynamic achievement of citizens in elaborating their particular moral resources. It is suggested that Rawls thus expresses a novel conception of liberal politics, one that is based only on a “faith” in the possibility and value of shareable terms of political justification and is otherwise contingent in its content.

Citation Information

Tom Bailey (2018). Habermas’s and Rawls’s Postsecular Modesty. In Manuel Knoll, Stephen Snyder, Nurdane Şimsek (Eds.), New Perspectives on Distributive Justice: Deep Disagreements, Pluralism, and the Problem of Consensus (pp. 449–466). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110537369-028

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110537369

Online ISBN: 9783110537369

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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