Democracy and Secularism: Remarks on an Ongoing Dispute


  • Luiz Bernardo Leite Araujo UERJ



This paper focus on the disputed issue concerning the proper role of religion in politics, confronting the contributions of three major contemporary political thinkers about democracy and secularism. I present, first, Charles Taylor’s characterization of secularist regimes as attempts to secure the basic principles of the modern moral order. Next, I argue that John Rawls’s growing interest in the relation between religion and democracy led him to an even more inclusive view of public reason. Thirdly, I show that Jürgen Habermas preserves a distinction between faith and knowledge that proves essential to grasping the debate over the place of religion in the public sphere. All three thinkers are concerned with the appropriate forum for the basic political language of the secular state. In a nutshell, my interpretation highlights a much greater proximity between Habermas and Rawls on political justification, on the one hand, and between the former and Taylor regarding the normative basis for the secular state, on the other hand, than their various interventions seem to indicate.

Biografia do Autor

Luiz Bernardo Leite Araujo, UERJ

Luiz Bernardo Leite Araujo is Associate Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Researcher of the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq). He is the author of Religião e Modernidade em Habermas (Loyola, 1996) and Pluralismo e Justiça: Estudos sobre Habermas (Loyola 2010), and has published several articles and chapters on deliberative democracy, religion and politics, and public reason.