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Freeing religion: Epistemology and the role of religious beliefs in democratic politics

Posted on:2003-12-25Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:The University of ChicagoCandidate:Wilmot, Brett TFull Text:PDF
My dissertation addresses the relationship between religion and politics, specifically, the proper role of religious convictions within democratic political debate. My project seeks a theoretical alternative to the secularism of political liberalism that can preserve the neutrality of political discourse relative to an indeterminate plurality of comprehensive religious and philosophical perspectives. I engage the work of Nicholas Wolterstorff and his critique of the epistemological foundations of classical and contemporary political liberalism. While sympathetic to much of what he has to say on this topic, I suggest a turn to the work of Jürgen Habermas as a way of providing a more robust theoretical framework for describing and defending the norms of democratic discourse relative to an indeterminate plurality of religions in the body politic. In order, finally, to redeem the promise of the democratic response to religious pluralism in terms of a full and free debate, I offer a critique of Habermas's account of communicative rationality and defend the viability of comprehensive philosophical reflection, or metaphysics, within the context of fully critical forms of argumentation. The project combines elements of philosophy, ethics, and political theory in an effort to justify a broader understanding of the legitimate role of religious convictions within democratic politics.
Keywords/Search Tags:Religious, Democratic, Role, Political
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