Religious moral languages, secularity and hermeneutical injustice *
As a philosophical approach to public moral discourse in a religiously plural society, Jeffrey Stout’s “modest pragmatism” has received a mixed response from the opposite sides of the secularism debate. While many political theologians and communitarians claim that Stout concedes too much to the secularists, some secularists, on the other hand, find Stout’s inclusive approach towards religious reasonings in public discourse all too “theological.” This essay offers a re-examination and a further analysis of modest pragmatism in the light of recent work in epistemology of democracy (especially Anderson’s interpretation of Dewey’s inclusive and experimental democracy), and discourse ethics based on Jose Medina’s theory of hermeneutical (in)justice. I argue that Stout’s normative vision of public moral discourse is persuasive only if certain principles which Stout either affirms or presupposes – a strong principle of religious freedom, a democratic principle of inclusion and a principle to settle disputes discursively and not violently – are placed in its center and developed further than they have been in Stout’s own work. This also means that I apply the previously-mentioned theory – Medina’s theory of hermeneutical (in)justice in particular – to the question which it does not address, namely: how can and should different religious languages be included in public moral deliberation? The result is a new and stronger variant of the modest pragmatist vision of public moral discourse, and a renewed argument for a qualified secularity of such discourse.