Justice in Exemptions

Integrity beyond Obligation?

in Secular Studies
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When (if ever) does justice require that individuals have exemptions from general laws on grounds relating to religion? In Liberalism’s Religion, Cécile Laborde argues that the focus ought not to be ‘religion’ but ‘integrity’, an interest shared by religious and non-religious people. Integrity-protecting commitments (IPC s) include commitments expressive of the individual’s sense of what they are obligated to do (‘obligation-IPC s’) and commitments that, while not a matter of obligation, are nevertheless crucial to the individual’s identity (‘identity-IPC s’). Laborde argues that justice permits and requires exemptions from general laws so as to secure these commitments and, thereby, the individual’s underlying interest in integrity. This paper considers whether there is a class of integrity-related commitments which Laborde's approach fails to accommodate - a class of commitments related to ideals of ‘self-transcendence’.

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  • Greenawalt Kent Religion and the Constitution: Volume 1: Free Exercise and Fairness (Princeton Princeton University Press 2006).

  • Laborde Cécile Liberalism’s Religion (Cambridge: MA Harvard University Press 2017).

  • Nixon Alan and Possamai Adam ‘Techno-Shamanism and the Economy of Ecstasy as a Religious Experience’ in Weston Donna and Bennett Andy eds. Pop Pagans: Paganism and Popular Music (London Routledge 2013) 431–479. (Reference is to the e-book edition.)

  • Nussbaum Martha Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America’s Tradition of Religious Equality (New York Basic Books 2008).

  • Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872 (1990).

  • Sherbert v. Verner 374 U.S. 398 (1963).

  • Welsh v. United States 398 U.S. 333 (1970).

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