On Giving Religious Intolerance its Due: Prospects for Transforming Conflict in a Post-secular Society

Journal of Religion 28 (3):1-30 (2012)
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This essay explores the possibility that religiously motivated intolerance and conflict can be reframed and positively utilized for constructive social-political purposes. After reviewing efforts by political philosophers over the past two decades to accommodate religious voices in political discourse, I scrutinize Charles Taylor’s attempt to improve upon the limits of “accommodationist” approaches to religious intolerance and conflict. I argue that both accommodationist and Taylor’s recognition-based approaches to religiously motivated conflict take the gravity of such conflict with insufficient seriousness. I then explore the potential goods of intentional conflict by examining Chantal Mouffe’s account of agonistic pluralism as a proposal for thinking beyond tolerance as an orienting value for resolving intransigent conflict. While I argue that Mouffe’s account finally suffers from certain of the same misgivings as the accommodationist and recognition-based approaches, I conclude that agonistic pluralism’s aim to conceptually reframe (rather than eliminate) intolerance and conflict moves in an important and promising direction.
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