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Religious Accommodation and Disproportionate Burden


The paper offers a critical engagement with Cécile Laborde’s book, Liberalism’s Religion. It elaborates several objections to Laborde’s account of religious accommodations, and sketches an alternative approach.

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  1. Laborde (2017: ch. 6). All parenthetical references in the text are to this book.

  2. For a challenge along these lines, see May (2017).

  3. Laborde also says that “if it is a case that is experienced by women as a practice that engages their integrity in ways that a uniform restriction on the practice makes it a particularly severe cost, then it is an obligation-IPC” (223). This formulation begs the key question. The idea that some commitments are experienced as obligatory was supposed to explain why burdens on them were especially severe. One cannot then identify commitments as belonging in the obligation-IPC category, and therefore as particularly severe, on the grounds that burdening them would impose a severe cost.

  4. See Patten (2014: 131–136).

  5. Eisgruber and Sager (2007: 93).

  6. For discussion, see Patten (2014: 137–148).


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Correspondence to Alan Patten.

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Patten, A. Religious Accommodation and Disproportionate Burden. Criminal Law, Philosophy 15, 61–74 (2021).

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  • Religious freedom
  • Liberalism
  • Exemptions