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Representing Religion in the

Public Sphere: A Moral Theory

of Multicultural Engagement
Tarcisio Amorim Carvalho
(University College Dublin)

Multiculturalism and Common Values

Angela Merkel (2010) and David Cameron
(2011) - Failure of Multiculturalism

Kenan Malik (2015)

Minority groups were treated as
homogeneous wholes
Universal Progressive (Liberal) Values

How is it possible to understand such a requirement
for compliance once the origin and character of these
values are put into question?
What are the sources of societal values? Should they
be only secular?
Given that political autonomy is a core liberal principle
how can one take account of individuals distinct
values in multicultural societies?

A new approach to communicative rationality

Cognitive instrumental rationality -> communicative

Legitimacy: legal norms and constitutional principles
derive from the normative contents of discursive acts
- empirical acquiescence (sanctions and rewards)

Ernst Tugendhat
Compromise of interests X moral
Fails to justify the superiority of reflexive
modes of justification for collective action

Classical Liberalism
Rawls Original Position X Perspective of
real-life argumentation


Ethnocentrism X Expansion of
interpretive horizons

Why Translation?

- Ideal character of semantic

generality (common [translatable]
language): Narrative X Argument

Alasdair MacIntyre
() every tradition is embodied in some particular
set of utterances and actions and thereby in all the
particularities of some specific language and culture
(Whose Justice, Which Rationality?, 1998: 371)
Learn as a second language

Religious reasons and political

Religion in the Public Sphere (2006)
Wild X Formal Public
()a rule that cannot be justified in an
impartial manner is illegitimate as it reflects
the fact that one party forces its will on
another (Habermas, 2006: 5).

Secular foundations of legal-political validity impairs the

conditions of political autonomy of religious citizens
Effective processes of deliberation should allow for different,
unexpected and unfamiliar arguments, the confrontation of
which would result not in conversion to the other persons
perspective, but in the production of a new perspective that is
different to either of the existing ones (Cooke, 2007: 230).
Critique of reason

Tariq Modood From protection to the person

to protection of feelings and beliefs
Bhikhu Parekh Operative Values - Polygamy
(Polygyny) and Arranged Marriage

Legitimacy :
-Dialogical evaluation of validity claims
(reason and tradition)
Rethinking the postmetaphysical
foundations of democracy
Common values Engagement and
challenge for a moral consensus