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Religious Voices in Public Places$
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Nigel Biggar and Linda Hogan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566624

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566624.001.0001

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Translation, Conversation, or Hospitality?

Translation, Conversation, or Hospitality?

Approaches to Theological Reasons in Public Deliberation

(p.85) 4 Translation, Conversation, or Hospitality?
Religious Voices in Public Places

Luke Bretherton

Oxford University Press

Within Western liberal democracies a variety of answers are given to the question of how, within a polity wherein a plurality of different visions of the good life coexist, some form of common life is to be forged. This chapter outlines three of these answers and situates them within wider philosophical and theological debates about the role of religious reasons in public political deliberation. The first approach assessed is the translation model. The work of John Rawls is assessed as a paradigmatic example of such an approach. An alternative to the translation model is the conversation model. The emphasis in this model is on the attempt to take seriously the actual beliefs and practices of particular traditions as the basis for common deliberation. The work of Jeffrey Stout and Alasdair MacIntyre are discussed as examples of this approach. It is argued that they attempt to develop an account of how diverse and incommensurable moral traditions can deliberate about common action without having to find some agnostic or neutral language into which all ‘thick’ language must be translated. The third approach outlined is the hospitality model. While there is much overlap with the conversation model, the hospitality model represents a specifically Christian theological approach to determining common action between diverse traditions. Like the conversation model, the hospitality model seeks to give an account of how different traditions can engage directly with each other. But its emphasis is on common public action, rather than conversation or dialogue. The article ends with a comparative analysis of all three models.

Keywords:   liberalism, pluralism, John Rawls, Jeffrey Stout, Alasdair MacIntyre, hospitality, Christianity

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