Consensus, Convergence, Restraint, and Religion

Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (3):345-361 (2018)
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This essay critically assesses the central claim of Kevin Vallier’s Liberal Politics and Public Faith: that public religious faith and public reason liberalism can be reconciled, because the values underlying public reason liberalism should lead us to endorse the ‘convergence view’, rather than the mainstream consensus view. The convergence view is friendlier to religious faith, because it jettisons the consensus view’s much-criticised ‘duty of restraint’. I present several challenges to Vallier’s claim. Firstly, if Vallier is right to reject the duty of restraint then consensus theorists can also do so, and on the same grounds. Secondly, the independent force of the objections to the duty of restraint is unclear. Thirdly, Vallier has not successfully identified desiderata that unite all public reason liberals and favour convergence over consensus. Finally, even if convergence is in some ways friendlier to religious faith, this does not show that it will be attractive to religious citizens.

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Paul Billingham
Oxford University


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