Workshop Religion and Public Justification

Date of event: Thursday 28 January 2016 (9am-4:30pm) and Friday 29 January (9:45am-4:30pm)

Prof. Daniel Statman (University of Haifa) will be giving the keynote lecture on "Religious Arguments in the Public Sphere: A View from Israel."

Location: IAS Common Ground, South Wing, Wilkins Building, UCL

Location of the keynote lecture: Council Room, UCL School of Public Policy



Jeffrey Howard - Deliberative Assimilation: Unreasonable Citizens, Public Reason, and the Duties of Coreligionists

Baldwin Wong - In What Sense is Political Liberalism Sectarian?


Fabienne Peter - From Objective Reasons to Public Reasons

Paul Billingham - Christianity and Public Reason Liberalism: The Theo-Ethical Equilibrium Argument for Restraint


Han van Wietmarschen - Reasonable Citizens and Epistemic Peers: A Skeptical Problem for Political Liberalism

Clare Chambers - Regulating Religious Marriage in the Marriage-Free State


Andrée-Anne Cormier - Political Liberalism and Children’s Education

Bouke de Vries - Evolution Theory, Creationism and Public Justification


Daniel Statman - Religious Arguments in the Public Sphere: A View from Israel 

(Prof. Statman's keynote lecture will take place in the Council Room of the School of Public Policy, 29-30 Tavistock Square)



Aurélia Bardon - Two Misunderstandings about Public Justification and Religious Reasons

Benjamin Hertzberg - Why Public Reason asks the Wrong Questions about Religion in Politics


Nick Martin - Liberal Secularism, Religious Accommodation, and the “Too Broad” Objection

Muhammad Velji - The Middle Strata: Rethinking the Dreaded “Choice/Chance” Arguments About Religious Accommodation


Matteo Bonotti - Public Reason, Accountability, and the Division of Justificatory Labour

Jonathan Seglow - What’s Wrong with Establishment?


Tobias Müller - Democracy before Liberalism: The Role of Religious Arguments in Democratic, Non-Liberal Public Justification




Workshop organized by the Religion and Political Theory (RAPT) Centre, University College London 

This workshop seeks to bring together scholars working on religion and public justification. The Rawlsian conception of public justification entailed the exclusion of all comprehensive doctrines, including the exclusion of all religious comprehensive doctrines: religious reasons, like other reasons based on non-religious conceptions of the good, were considered as non-public, non-shared and non-accessible, and therefore could not be used to support state action. Recent contributions (March 2013, Vallier 2014) suggest, however, that this mainstream political liberal account is based, on the one hand, on an overly simplified or naive understanding of religion and religious reasons, and, on the other hand, on a conception of public accessibility or shareability that is much more controversial than political liberals assume. Consequently, the question of the place of religion and religious reasons in the public justification of state action needs to be reassessed.

Contributions addressing the following questions are particularly welcome:

• What do the different requirements of public justification (shareability, accessibility, intelligibility) imply for religious reasons?

• Is there any normatively relevant distinction between religious and non-religious reasons?

• What should be the role of religious groups in the public sphere?

• What, if anything, is wrong with the religious reasons used in some public debates? Cases of same-sex marriage, abortion and the moral status of the embryo, teaching of Intelligent Design, bioethics, etc.

• What are the particular moral duties for religious citizens implied by public justification? Are religious citizens unfairly or excessively burdened?

If you would like to present a paper, please send a paper abstract (350-500 words) to Aurélia Bardon (a.bardon@ucl.ac.uk). The deadline for submission of a paper abstract is October 30th. Full papers will be pre-circulated early January.

CFP R&PJ Workshop PDF