What Is Wrong with Divinitia?

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

Theorists of liberalism put forward diverse conditions for what makes a state just and legitimate. In what follows I examine Cécile Laborde’s suggestion that a just and legitimate liberal state may have an established religion. Such a state may take the form of what she calls Divinitia: a state with some symbolic recognition of religion, conservative laws in matters of bioethics including abortion, religious accommodation from general laws, and religious references in public debate. I argue that Laborde’s requirement that public justification of policies by public officials is conducted in terms of accessible reasons either rules out too many or too few policies. I then suggest that not only justice but also the legitimacy of states can be ensured only if concern for justice has a greater role to play in the selection of state policies than Laborde suggests. We have good reasons to doubt that Divinita would qualify as just and legitimate.

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