Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review of "Between Naturalism and Religion"

In "Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews", Jeffrey Flynn (Fordham University) has published a review of Habermas's "Between Naturalism and Religion" (Polity Press, 2008):

Read it here.

From the review:
"Habermas's central aim in this collection of essays is to articulate the appropriate relation between "postmetaphysical thinking" and science and religion. He takes up issues related to both the philosophical and the public use of reason, and makes interesting proposals regarding their interrelation. Habermas is clearly worried about the spread of naturalistic worldviews ("scientism") and religious fundamentalism, but he dismisses neither naturalism nor religion. Rather, he defends what he calls "soft naturalism," which embraces a non-reductionist account of human language and thought in which normativity and intersubjectivity are central. Regarding religion, Habermas maintains that philosophy has long been enriched by secular "translations" of religious ideas."

"On the ethics of citizenship, Habermas forges a middle path between Rawls and his critics (e.g., Nicholas Wolterstorff and Paul Weithman), agreeing with Rawls that a secular state requires an "institutional filter" that prevents religious reasons from entering into formal justifications of laws and court decisions, but agreeing with Rawls's critics that citizens within the informal public sphere should be allowed to use religious language without restriction. Translating religious arguments into secular terms is still required at some point in order for them to potentially pass through the institutional filter, but this burden does not rest solely on religious citizens."

On the question of restrictions on public reasons, Jeffrey Flynn comments on Chistina Lafont's critique of Habermas. See also Christina Lafont's "Religious Citizens and Public Reasons" from the blog "The Immanent Flame".

See also John Haldane's (University of St. Andrews) review of Habermas's book in "Times Higher Education" (September 11, 2008).

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