Religious Conservatives and Safe Sex: Reconciliation by Nonpublic Reason

American Political Thought 3 (2):322-340 (2014)
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Religious conservatives in the U.S. have frequently opposed public-health measures designed to combat STDs among minors, such as sex education, condom distribution, and HPV vaccination. Using Rawls’s method of conjecture, I will clear up what I take to be a misunderstanding on the part of religious conservatives: even if we grant their premises regarding the nature and source of sexual norms, the wide-ranging authority of parents to enforce these norms against their minor children, and the potential sexual-disinhibition effects of the above public-health measures, their opposition to at least one of these measures, HPV vaccination, cannot be justified. In fact, their comprehensive doctrines, when properly interpreted, should lead them to back this measure and thereby draw closer to a policy consensus with other citizens regarding teenage sexual health
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