The Paradoxical Role of Coercion in the Theory of Political Liberalism

Nicholas Wolterstorff and Terence Cuneo

in Understanding Liberal Democracy

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199558957
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744808 | DOI:
The Paradoxical Role of Coercion in the Theory of Political Liberalism

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What is the proper role, in a liberal democracy, of religious reasons for and against proposed laws or abolition of laws? The various positions taken on the issue have come to be classified as “exclusivist” or “inclusivist.” This chapter identifies and critiques what may be the deepest component in the line of thought of those who espouse the exclusivist position. Instead of focusing on respect, this line of thought focuses on coercion. It tells us that a condition of a citizen’s properly supporting a piece of coercive legislation is not only that he or she (entitledly) believe the coercion justified, but also that, he or she must offer or make available, to those one believes do not already have them, reasons that they do or would regard as justifying the coercive legislation.

Keywords: Audi; Robert; coercive law; exclusivism; inclusivism; Larmore; Charles; Rawls; John; reasonable

Chapter.  13369 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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