Sunday, November 28, 2004

Public Reason:II

Majikthise, in the first of a series of posts on Public Reason and Religon, explains why faith "short circuits" honest and reasoned argumentation:

However, if S believes that p on faith, she and I have little to say to each other. As long as S clings to faith as her reason for believing that p, she has cut herself off from any facts or evidence that I might cite against p, she has also cut herself off from convincing me of p. The situation is even worse if I have a faith-based belief that not-p. At this point S and I have reached an impasse. We both have faith, and our faith points us in opposite directions.

The p-example points to a serious defect with faith-based reasons, namely, that they cannot be "audited" in the same way as ordinary reasons. Rawls would say that faith-based reasons are not sufficiently transparent. If someone claims to believe something as an article of faith, we must simply take them at their word. By contrast, if someone asks me rationally defend a policy, it doesn't really matter whether I actually believe the reasons I give, at least insofar as justification is concerned. The reasons stand on their own. Someone else can follow my reasoning and decide for herself whether my case is convincing.

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