Re-examining an Ethics of Citizenship in Postsecular Societies
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Jürgen Habermas is, without any doubt, one of the most influential, albeit not undisputed, authors in the debate about ‘postsecularity’, ‘post-secularism’, ‘the postsecular’, ‘postsecular societies’, and so forth. Unlike many other authors who use these concepts to describe and explain the continuing presence of religion in contemporary ‘modern’ societies (see Beckford, 2012), the core of Habermas’s notion of the postsecular society is normative. It includes an ethics of citizenship that aims at making it possible that all citizens can participate as equals in democratic procedures, including public political debate about matters of common interest, and hence in co-determining the development of their society. This contribution critically examines Habermas’s proposal of an ethics of citizenship in postsecular societies in view of the question whether it is able to adequately deal with problems that arise in public controversies about particular verbal and non-verbal acts of expression, namely acts which are understood by their authors as contributions to public debate, which are experienced by numerous believers as denigration of their religion, and as offence to their religious sensibilities. Controversies about such acts offer especially interesting possibilities for an investigation of normative dimensions of the notion of the postsecular and post-secular societies, respectively.
KeywordsPublic Debate Epistemic Attitude Religious Language Public Culture Secular Society
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