Freedom of Conscience: A Communal-based Approach

Appeal: Review of Current Law and Law Reform 29 (1):25-47 (2024)
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Despite the plethora of freedom of religion literature (under section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), the corresponding literature on the freedom of conscience is minimal. To further the discussion on the freedom of conscience, I rely heavily on the philosophical literature to make an important distinction; the difference between individual- based and communal-based conceptions of conscience. Whereas the former is plagued with subjectivity, making it difficult to conceptualize a working framework for the Charter right, the latter offers a promising foothold to rise above subjectivity and find a firm footing based on communal relations. In emphasizing the importance of the dialogical nature of human beings and the relational necessity undergirding moral judgements, I argue that the concept of conscience should be understood and practiced in community, rather than individually.

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Owen Jeffrey Crocker
University of Victoria


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