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Does modern liberal discourse have a leg to stand on?

Over on the New York Times Opinionator section, the academic, literary theorist and legal scholar Stanley Fish reviews a new book Disenchantment with Secular Discourse and asks whether there are actually secular reasons upon which policy decisions are made.

The first paragraph:

In the always-ongoing debate about the role of religion in public life, the argument most often made on the liberal side (by which I mean the side of Classical Liberalism, not the side of left politics) is that policy decisions should be made on the basis of secular reasons, reasons that, because they do not reflect the commitments or agendas of any religion, morality or ideology, can be accepted as reasons by all citizens no matter what their individual beliefs and affiliations. So it’s O.K. to argue that a proposed piece of legislation will benefit the economy, or improve the nation’s health, or strengthen national security; but it’s not O.K. to argue that a proposed piece of legislation should be passed because it comports with a verse from the book of Genesis or corresponds to the will of God.

The rest of the article is absolutely worth reading, he offers a fascinating analysis of modern political discourse. And it seems all the more apt in the light of this.

Written by annaarco

February 23, 2010 at 10:54 am

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