Religion and the public sphere: What are the deliberative obligations of democratic citizenship?

Cristina Lafont*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


In this article I analyze Rawls' and Habermas' accounts of the role of religion in political deliberations in the public sphere. After pointing at some difficulties involved in the unequal distribution of deliberative rights and duties among religious and secular citizens that follow from their proposals, I argue for a way to structure political deliberation in the public sphere that imposes the same deliberative obligations on all democratic citizens, whether religious or secular. These obligations derive from the ideal of mutual accountability that is supposed to guide political deliberation in a deliberative democracy. The main advantage of this proposal is that it recognizes the right of all democratic citizens to adopt their own cognitive stance (whether religious or secular) in political deliberation in the public sphere without giving up on the democratic obligation to provide reasons acceptable to everyone to justify coercive policies with which all citizens must comply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-150
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Democratic legitimacy
  • Democratic obligations
  • John Rawls
  • Jurgen Habermas
  • Political deliberation
  • Public reasons
  • Public sphere
  • Religious reasons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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