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'Religious Exemptions and Self-respect'

Publication date: Sep 30, 2013 11:57 AM

Start: Mar 25, 2014 05:00 PM
End: Mar 25, 2014 07:00 PM

Location: Roberts 508, Roberts Building, Torrington Place, WC1E 7JE


RAPT (Religion and Political Theory) Lecture Series ‘Religious Exemptions and Self-Respect' - Jonathan Seglow, Royal Holloway, University of London

Standing in the way of justification of exemptions or other forms of legal accommodation for members of religious groups is the fact that there seems to no reason to privilege religious over non-religious identities in a liberal society.  In this paper I explore the concept of self-respect as a way of impartially grounding accommodation claims. I set out a notion of integrity self-respect which consists in adhering to one’s own normative standards, religious or otherwise.  I suggest that, in the absence of accommodation, citizens with strong religious or moral convictions, face a choice between fidelity to the law or their integrity self-respect which other citizens do not face.  Drawing on Rawls’s view of society as a co-operative endeavour between free and equal citizens, I argue that accommodation may be justified when it secures citizens willing consent in following the law in such a way that maintains the bases of their integrity self-respect.  I illustrate this theoretical argument with consideration of four UK cases of Christian individuals which were decided in 2013 by the European Court of Human Rights.

Jonathan Seglow is Reader in Political Theory in the Dept of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London.   He is the author of Defending Associative Duties (Routledge, 2013), as well as a number of articles and chapters on religious accommodation, multiculturalism and other topics in applied political theory.  He was until 2012 co-editor of Res Publica: a journal of moral, legal and social philosophy, and was Principal Investigator on a project on Religion Well-Being and Public Policy which was part of the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society research theme.

The RAPT lecture series showcases the work of prominent international scholars in the study of religion and political theory. It is organised by UCL’s Religion and Political Theory (RAPT) Centre. RAPT is a 5-year project funded by the European Research Council and led by Professor Cécile Laborde. It aims to interrogate the special status of religion (ethics, epistemology and practices) in western political and legal theory. 

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