Habermas on Public Reason and Religion
In this Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy article, Cathrine Holst and Anders Molander discuss Jürgen Habermas's ideas on public reason and religion, asking: do religious citizens suffer an asymmetrical cognitive burden, and should they be compensated?
In his recent writings, Jürgen Habermas asks how the liberal constitutional principle of separation between church and state, religion and politics, should be understood. The problem, he holds, is that a liberal state guarantees equal freedom for religious communities to practise their faith, while at the same time shielding the political bodies that take collectively binding decisions from religious influences. This means that religious citizens are asked to justify their political statements independently of their religious views, resulting in a burden that secular citizens do not experience. To compensate, Habermas demands from secular citizens that they open their minds to the possible truth content of religion, enter into dialog and contribute to the translation of religious reasons into generally acceptable reasons. This article focuses on Habermas’s assumption that religious citizens suffer an asymmetrical cognitive burden that should be compensated, and his claim that his approach to religion in the public sphere is less restrictive than that of John Rawls.
Cathrine Holst and Anders Molander
Jürgen Habermas on Public Reason and Religion: Do Religious Citizens Suffer an Asymmetrical Cognitive Burden, and Should they be Compensated?