Private Consciences and Public Reasons

Private Consciences and Public Reasons

4.33 (6 ratings by Goodreads)
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Within democratic societies, a deep division exists over the nature of community and the grounds for political life. Should the political order be neutral between competing conceptions of the good life or should it be based on some such conception? This book addresses one crucial set of problems raised by this division: What bases should officials and citizens employ in reaching political decisions and justifying their positions? Should they feel free to rely on whatever grounds seem otherwise persuasive to them, like religious convictions, or should they restrict themselves to "public reasons," reasons that are shared within the society or arise from the premises of liberal democracy? Kent Greenawalt argues that fundamental premises of liberal democracy alone do not provides answers to these questions, that much depends on historical and cultural contexts. After examining past and current practices and attitudes in the United States, he offers concrete suggestions for appropriate principles relevant to American society today.
This incisive and timely analysis by one of our leading legal philosophers should attract a wide and diverse readership of scholars, practitioners, and concerned citizens.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 17.78mm | 362.87g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 2 line illustrations
  • 0195094190
  • 9780195094190
  • 1,768,050

Review quote

"[Greenawalt's] clear reasoning, his valuing of what is important to many citizens, his comprehensive overview and consideration of the state of the question, make his book a force to be reckoned with in future discussions of the role of religion in the public arena."-Ethics and Policy "...The best survey of the contemporary debate over "public reason" you will find anywhere. The greatest virtue of Greenawalt's fine book is that he rejects liberal dogmatism."-Hastings Center Report "Greenawalt's book offers the most searching and meticulous analysis to date of a question-what role should religious belief play in political decisionmaking?-that is vital not only to religious freedom but to the very meaning of democracy."-Steven D. Smith, University of Colorado "Greenawalt's new and powerful book shows how a common commitment to liberal principles can join with the pursuit of divergent religious and ethical ideals to sustain and enrich the public life of liberal democracies. His is a political philosophy as generous as it is subtle."-Charles Larmore, Columbia University "With persistent reasonableness and lucidity, Greenawalt shows issues to be more complex than others have recognized: religion cannot be walled out of political and legal deliberations (as some have urged), but restraining principles are clearly needed. He then proposes intriguing resolutions that mix creativity with common sense."-Richard Fallon, Harvard University "Even those who disagree with Professor Greenawalt's conclusions will appreciate the depth and richness of his analysis."-David M. Smolin, Samford University "This book is a masterpiece of thoughtful and penetrating analysis by the leading scholar in the field....Clergy, public officials, and lay readers will be especially impressed by the clarity and sensitivity of his arguments."-Edward B. Foley, Ohio State University "Its engaging narrative and far-reaching argumentation make it an indispensable resource for political and legal theorists, social critics, journalists, and many others."-Robert Audi, University of Nebraska "Essential reading for all who want to struggle with the question of religion in politics."-Michael J. Perry, Howard J. Trienens Chair in Law, Northwestern University "This fine book represents and advances the current state of the debate. It is essential reading for all who are interested in questions about religious political argument in contemporary liberal democracies."-Paul J. Weithman, University of Notre Dame "Comprehensive, thought-provoking, and well worth reading."-Choice
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Rating details

6 ratings
4.33 out of 5 stars
5 50% (3)
4 33% (2)
3 17% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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