Rawlsian secularism: A critique

Youngmevittaya, Wanpat (2021) Rawlsian secularism: A critique. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis addresses three main questions concerning the relation between state and religion: What is the secular state? Is the secular state coherent? Is the secular state morally desirable? Specifically, this thesis claims that some significant characteristics of the political philosophy of John Rawls could be articulated as a particular version of secularism – Rawlsian secularism. This thesis argues that Rawlsian secularism should be used as the definition of the secular state, and proposes to deal with those three questions by examining Rawlsian secularism.

This thesis argues that Rawlsian secularism is incoherent. The premise of Rawlsian secularism is that for the state to be religiously neutral it must be neutral toward all reasonable comprehensive doctrines, religious or not. In other words, it would fail to be religiously neutral if it fails to be neutral toward any comprehensive doctrine even if it does not endorse any particular religion explicitly. This thesis claims that, in constructing his political conception of the person, Rawls cannot avoid some controversial debates about human characteristics. And, in dealing with fundamental political questions, he cannot avoid some metaphysical or comprehensive moral questions, which go beyond the limit of Rawlsian public reason.

This thesis also argues that Rawlsian secularism is morally undesirable. Rawls' idea that the state should leave people's actual comprehensive identity and doctrine aside when deciding on a matter of justice is morally undesirable. His idea may be desirable in some cases, but it may be not in some other cases. Rawlsian secularism rules out the possibility for the state to engage in some controversial moral issues in the first place, which is morally undesirable in some cases.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Knight, Dr. Carl and Smith, Dr. Craig
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82382
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2021 14:16
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2021 14:16
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82382
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82382

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