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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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Not Translation, but Conversation

Not Translation, but Conversation

Theology in Public Debate about Euthanasia

(p.151) 7 Not Translation, but Conversation
Religious Voices in Public Places

Nigel Biggar (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter opposes the secularist view that religious or theological speech should be banned from public discourse or translated into publicly accessible language. First, it presents an argument against the legalization of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, which, it claims, is at once thoroughly theological and publicly accessible. This involves critical reflection on what it means to be ‘thoroughly theological’ and ‘publicly accessible’. Next, against this understanding of a theological argument the chapter proceeds to assess the relevant theories of Jürgen Habermas, John Rawls, and Jeffrey Stout. This assessment analyzes the variety of things that ‘public reason’ can mean, and it explains why the requirement that theological speech be translated into secular discourse is wrong. Finally, the chapter concludes that Stout's model of candid public conversation is implicit in the unofficial late Rawls, and is more satisfactory than the model of translation espoused even by the recent, religion-friendlier Habermas.

Keywords:   Jürgen Habermas, public reason, public theology, John Rawls, secularism, Jeffrey Stout, translation

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