On the Presence of Educated Religious Beliefs in the Public Sphere

Argumentum. Journal of the Seminar of Discursive Logic, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric 13 (2):146-178 (2015)
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Discursive liberal democracy might not be the best of all possible forms of government, yet in Europe it is largely accepted as such. The attractors of liberal democracy (majority rule, political equality, reasonable self-determination and an ideological framework built in a tentative manner) as well as an adequate dose of secularization (according to the doctrine of religious restraint) provide both secularist and educated religious people with the most convenient ideological framework. Unfortunately, many promoters of ideological secularization take too strong a stance against the manifestation of religiosity in the public sphere. They claim that people may discuss, debate or adopt (coercive) laws and regularities only by means of secular public reasons and secular motivation. We argue that these secular restraints on the ideological framework are unfairly biased against religion, counterproductive and unreasonable. The exaggerated secular restrictions create a strict secular public sphere that appears to be a Pickwickian world suitable just for inoffensive, dull and lethargic people. Deliberately separated from the idea of truth, secular public reasons cannot sustain a complex adaptive system like discursive liberal democracy. Liberal democracy needs citizens with a strong sense of truth and with a sufficient will-power to follow both a personal ideal and a collective ideal. Religious beliefs provide people with just such a sense of truth and with the desire to have a certain kind of character. In the secularized public sphere of liberal democracy, people can manifest just educated religious beliefs that correspond to the real world and respect the principle of peaceable conduct. In the final part of the article we support the assertion that believers could and should educate their religious belief before expressing them in the public sphere. Educated religious beliefs have a wide enough propositional content, obey the moral imperative of William Clifford, are purged from all propositional components against which there is strong evidence and are consciously cultivated by the mechanism of suggestion.



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Gheorghe-Ilie Farte
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

Citations of this work

How to Change People’s Beliefs? Doxastic Coercion vs. Evidential Persuasion.Gheorghe-Ilie Farte - 2016 - Argumentum. Journal of the Seminar of Discursive Logic, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric 14 (2):47-76.

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References found in this work

The Ethics of Belief.William Clifford - 1879 - In Brian Davies (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Belief, faith, and acceptance.Robert Audi - 2008 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 63 (1):87-102.
Public Reason.Jonathan Quong - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Religion as Conversation-stopper.Richard Rorty - 1994 - Common Knowledge 3 (1):1-6.
Conscious belief.D. H. Mellor - 1978 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 78:87-101.

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