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What is a Secular State

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... A state which through laws and policies purposely treats Tx and Ty as equal. ... modernity and which recognizes the priority of secular reasoning in politics. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What is a Secular State


1
What is a Secular State?
  • Marcus Johansson
  • Linköping, June 2008

2
Background
  • (I) A modern democratic state is universally and
    morally required to be secular (the secular
    imperative).

3
Background
  • (I) A modern democratic state is universally and
    morally required to be secular (the secular
    imperative).
  • (II) The citizens of today are still, in general,
    religious. Moreover, the modern state also
    harbors religious pluralism.

4
Background
  • (I) paired with (II) give rise to some tension.

5
Background
  • (I) paired with (II) give rise to some tension.
  • Thus
  • a) It is important to arrive at a precise meaning
    of secular state if we are to assess the
    concept in the context of (II).

6
Background
  • (I) paired with (II) give rise to some tension.
  • Thus
  • a) It is important to arrive at a precise meaning
    of secular state if we are to assess the
    concept in the context of (II).
  • b) Given a certain meaning of secular state and
    the context (II), the secular imperative stated
    in (I) must be carefully assessed.

7
Interpretations Arguments
  • If the state should be secular,
  • then what is a state?

8
Interpretations Arguments
  • If the state should be secular,
  • then what is a state?

9
Interpretations Arguments
  • What does the word secular mean?

10
Interpretations Arguments
  • What does the word secular mean?
  • From the Latin sæculum, meaning
  • age, timespan or generation.
  • In the Christian context, it signified the time
    between the Fall and pa???sía, the return of
    Christ a time where the present is interwoven
    with the expected.
  • (1)

11
Interpretations Arguments
  • What does the word secular mean?
  • The secular time made the theologians
    favor a theological separation between the
    Kingdom of God and the Earthly Kingdom. Today,
    however, there is a political preference for a
    practical separation between religion and state.
    This separation is now commonly denoted by the
    term state secularism.
  • (2)

12
Interpretations Arguments
  • Different interpretations of secular state

13
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Confessional Interpretation (i)
  • A Secular State (i) def A state which
    explicitly rejects all forms of theism.

14
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Confessional Interpretation (i)
  • Different versions
  • Atheist state Agnostic state Theistic state
  • ____________________________________________
  • Non-theistic state Non-theistic state
    Theistic state
  • SSA WSA WST SST

15
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Confessional Interpretation (i) - arguments
  • Theism is explicitly rejected by the state
    since...
  • (i)a ...the central claim of any theism, the
    existence of a supernatural being or power, is
    simply false. (epistemological argument)
  • (i)b ...the citizens wish to have a non-theist
    state. (democratic argument)
  • (i)c ...every theism causes harm. (argument from
    harm)

16
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Policy Interpretation (ii)
  • A Secular State (ii) def A state which through
    laws and policies deny theisms special treatment.

17
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Policy Interpretation (ii)
  • The Impartial State Version ((ii)imp)
  • (ii)imp def A state which through laws and
    policies purposely treats Tx and Ty as equal.
  • The Neutral State Version ((ii)neut)
  • (ii)imp def A state which through laws and
    policies purposely treats all Ts as equal to
    non-Ts.

18
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Policy Interpretation (ii) arguments for
    (ii)imp
  • (ii)impa Impartial treatment prevents conflicts.
    (pragmatic argument)
  • (ii)impb Theisms are incommensurable.
    (incommensurability argument)
  • (ii)impc Making laws regarding religion is
    necessary, since they operate in the public
    sphere. (public domain argument)

19
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Policy Interpretation (ii) arguments for
    (ii)neut
  • (ii)neuta No law should contain references to
    individual entities. (formal argument)
  • (ii)neutb Neutrality prevents conflicts in
    society. (pragmatic argument)
  • (ii)neutc Theism belongs to the private sphere.
    (private domain argument)
  • (ii)neutd Neutrality is epistemologically
    required. (agnostic argument)
  • (ii)neute Non-neutrality impairs democratic
    culture. (argument from democratic culture)

20
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • A Secular State (iii) def A state in which the
    deliberative process doesnt contain
    authoritative references to any theism.

21
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • A Secular State (iii) def A state in which the
    deliberative process doesnt contain
    authoritative references to any theism.
  • - Robert Audi
  • - Jürgen Habermas
  • - John Rawls

22
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • Audis Principle of Secular Motivation (PSM)
  • ... one should not advocate or promote any
    legal or public policy restrictions on human
    conduct unless one not only has and is willing to
    offer, but also is motivated by, adequate secular
    reason, where this reason (or set of reasons) is
    motivationally sufficient for the conduct in
    question.
  • Audi (1989), p. 284

23
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • Argument against PSM
  • C1(PSM) PSM is a non sequitur given his initial
    premises, not establishing non-theism in
    public discourse.
  • C2(PSM) PSM is biased toward non-theistic reason.
  • C3(PSM) PSM excludes citizens deeply rooted in
    religion.

24
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • Habermass account of public deliberation
  • Non-theistic reasoning generally accessible
    language is required in political institutions
    only, not of ordinary citizens.
  • Religious citizens are suggested to, through a
    learning process, develop an epistemic stance
    which harmonizes their religion with modernity
    and which recognizes the priority of secular
    reasoning in politics.
  • Secular citizens are suggested to transcend
    their prejudice of religion as archaic relics.

25
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • Argument against Habermass account
  • C1(H) Habermass account is biased toward
    non- theism.
  • C2(H) Habermas idealizes the citizen.
  • C3(H) The suggested filtering of theistic
    reasons from the political institutions are
    questionable.

26
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • Rawlss idea of Public Reason (PR)
  • ... citizens are to conduct their fundamental
    discussions within the framework of what each
    regards as a political conception of justice
    based on values that others can reasonably be
    expected to endorse and each is, in good faith,
    prepared to defend that conception so
    understood.
  • Rawls (1993), p 226
  • Proviso Reasons from a comprehensive doctrine
    can be introduced at any time, provided that
    we in due course give public reasons
    supporting our previous argument.

27
Interpretations Arguments
  • The Discourse Interpretation (iii)
  • Best yet, since PR avoids some of the problems
    which surrounds Audis and Habermass accounts.
  • But, PR still fails to establish itself as a
    universal moral requirement, since to tightly
    connected to secular liberalism.

28
Concluding remarks
  • NONE of the suggested interpretations manages
    to establish itself as universally morally
    required in a democracy.

29
Concluding remarks
  • NONE of the suggested interpretations manages
    to establish itself as universally morally
    required in a democracy.
  • SOME of the arguments appears to have some
    force
  • - The democratic argument
  • - The pragmatic argument
  • - The public domain argument
  • - The argument from democratic culture

30
Concluding remarks
  • While the secular imperative is NOT a universal
    moral requirement, it is still a prima facie
    moral imperative in SOME contexts, where the four
    listed arguments are at play.

31
Concluding remarks
  • HOWEVER...
  • While the secular imperative has prima facie
    validity, there are prudential arguments against
    the use of the term secular
  • a) The concept is redundant its content can be
    perfectly described without reference to
    non-theism (or theism).
  • b) The concept is potentially harmful it is
    often confused with atheism and often regarded as
    a non-neutral opponent to religion. The term thus
    provokes conflict.
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