From Social Practices to Reflective Agency: A Postsecular Ethics of Citizenship



In this essay I offer a normative account of citizenship based on the analysis of our condition as co-practitioners in civil society, an account that aims to address the public role of religions and to embrace multiple forms of citizenship. Under conditions of pluralism, one’s involvement in cooperative practices is shaped and unsettled by the presence of co-practitioners who carry different self-understandings about the relationship between their beliefs and their social agency. Social cooperation is threatened when these self-understandings come into conflict. The notion of postsecularism provides a valuable clue for better understanding this kind of conflict, thanks to its focus on how the self-understanding of religious and secular actors is affected by their co-implication in the same public space. Within this framework, I suggest that a reflective consideration of the practical cooperative relationships that ordinarily characterize our agency as actors within civil society may adequately ground a normative ethics of citizenship. This reflective awareness affects the self-understanding of both religious and secular citizens, and normatively points towards a disposition to cooperatively re-arrange and re-formulate one’s own beliefs and arguments in light of the structural co-implication of one’s own belief with the beliefs of others. The basic duties of citizenship emerge from the implications of participating in a body of social practices that extends to different communities of practice at a local, national and global level.


Ethics of citizenship Social practices Civil society Postsecularism Reflective agency 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università Cattolica del Sacro CuoreMilanItaly

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