The Arguments of Religious Freedom under Fire: Part 3

So the problem remains. Enlightenment liberalism has driven itself into a philosophical cul-de-sac, and the only escape at the moment is through a field of intense social conflict with no recourse to reason or tolerant dialogue, now that rationality has been revealed as its own kind of faith and tolerance revealed as a coded kind of exclusion.

Perhaps this is too bleak an outlook. Perhaps we will renegotiate a radically narrowed Rawlsian "overlapping consensus," in which the common philosophical ground of society—and thus the extent of our cooperative efforts through government, business, and civil society—is limited to uncontroversial (or incontrovertible) principles. Or perhaps we will find that reason and empiricism, advanced to their current state, can indeed generate values and normative judgments rooted in a shared language of science rather than the contested realm of religion. For my money, it's a long shot.

2/24/2011 5:00:00 AM
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    About Rosalynde Welch
    Rosalynde Welch is an independent scholar who makes her home in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and four children.
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