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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2015 x
Artikel

Access_open Religion Ain’t Sacrosanct

How to Fight Obsolete Accounts of Religious Freedom

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden Hobby Lobby, Hosanna-Tabor, tolerance-leaning liberalism, equality-leaning liberalism
Auteurs Roland Pierik
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This paper is largely an endorsement and a further elaboration of Cohen’s critical discussion of the Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor cases and the conceptual overstretch of religious freedom they embody. I disagree with Cohen, however, on the proper interpretation of this debate. Cohen construes the ominous Court cases as an anti-liberal attack on the liberal state order. My main thesis is that the root of this dispute can be traced back to a fault line within liberalism between a more tolerance-leaning and a more equality-leaning tradition. I argue that the ominous cases are instances of the tolerance-leaning tradition in liberalism, which once was characteristic of the liberal tradition. Still, I agree with Cohen that this tradition should be rejected because it reverts to an obsolete interpretation of religious freedom that defends unwarranted privileges for certain groups that are out of sync with the egalitarian underpinnings of contemporary liberal political orders.


Roland Pierik
Roland Pierik is Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam Law School.
Artikel

Access_open Kelsen, Secular Religion, and the Problem of Transcendence

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 2 2015
Trefwoorden Kelsen, secular religion, Voegelin, Schmitt, transcendence
Auteurs professor Bert van Roermund
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    An alleged ‘return to religion’ in contemporary western politics (and science) prompted the Trustees of the Hans Kelsen Institut to posthumously publish Kelsen’s critique of the concept of ‘secular religion’ advanced by his early student Eric Voegelin. This paper identifies, firstly, what concept of transcendence is targeted by Kelsen, and argues that his analysis leaves scope for other conceptions. It does so in two steps: it summarizes the arguments against ‘secular religion’ (section 2) and it gives an account of the differences between Voegelin’s and Schmitt’s conception of transcendence – both under attack from Kelsen (section 3). It then submits an alternative account of the relationship between politics and religion in Modernity, building on the concept of a ‘civil religion’ as found in Rousseau’s Social Contract. Giving a Rousseauist slant to Claude Lefort’s analysis of political theology (section 4) it concludes that a thin concept of transcendence is part and parcel of every, in particular a democratic, account of politics. It should be a stronghold against any resurgence of religion that feeds on hypostatized transcendence. In closing (section 5), it is argued that two key concepts in Kelsen’s legal philosophy may well be understood as paradigms of thin transcendence, namely ‘the people’ and ‘the Grundnorm’.


professor Bert van Roermund
Bert van Roermund is professor (em.) of philosophy at Tilburg Law School and international correspondent of the Hans Kelsen Institute in Vienna.
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