Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About usNews and EventsNews articles

Public reason and religious arguments

06 May 2010

Promotie: mw. A. Schuster, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Proefschrift: Public reason and religious arguments

Promotor(s): prof.dr. R. Boomkens

Faculteit: Wijsbegeerte

Contact: Anke Schuster, e-mail:

Public reason and religious arguments

Can religious arguments legitimately be used in public discourse? In recent years, philosophical discussions of this question have focused on the concept of public reason, which is a normative concept in liberal democratic theory, specifying which arguments should and should not be used in public discourse. It is often taken to exclude religious arguments. In her dissertation, Anke Schuster takes issue with theories of public reason and the far-reaching degree of self-restraint they expect citizens and office-holders to exercise. Her argument aims to show that religious arguments should be given much more space in public discourse than many proponents of public reason are prepared to grant.

Schuster argues that even those proponents of public reason who in their theories seek to avoid placing undue demands on religious believers, do impose considerable restrictions on the use of religious arguments. The argument on which such restrictions are based, the argument from coercion, is, she suggests, convincing only in the case of office-holders but not in the case of citizens. Schuster therefore proposes to distinguish between citizens and office-holders when considering self-restraint. Citizens should be (morally) free to use religious arguments, whereas office-holders should be expected to exercise self-restraint with respect to religious arguments. Members of Parliament of religious parties should, though, be exempt from this requirement because of their duty to represent religious citizens. Contrary to popular belief, most religious parties do not conflict with principles of liberal democracy, and those that do should be tolerated.

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.40 p.m.
printView this page in: Nederlands

More news

  • 11 July 2019

    Major companies’ annual reports too vague about climate impact

    Many major Dutch companies publish extensive information about climate impact in their annual reports. However, very few companies provide concrete, detailed information about their own CO2 emissions, the impact of climate change on their business...

  • 08 July 2019

    UG permanently closes Yantai project

    The University of Groningen (UG) has permanently closed the project aimed at creating a branch campus in Yantai. Discussions were held with China Agricultural University, the city of Yantai and the Province of Shandong.

  • 03 July 2019

    Cheap train tickets boost public transport use but reduce customer satisfaction

    Offers of cheap single train tickets through retailers such as Kruidvat or Etos have a positive impact on the number of kilometres travelled by rail. This impact is much bigger than that of more general TV, newspaper or magazine advertising. However,...