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“Be a Jew at Home as Well as in the Street”: Religious Worldviews in a Liberal Democracy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses four different approaches for justifying liberal democracy in a pluralist, diverse society against its critics, considering the case of the Haredim of Beit Shemesh as an example of a religious minority. They are communitarian consensus, state neutrality, human nature, and overlapping consensus. The author argues that each of these is problematic, even though some are less problematic than other approaches, and concludes that only certain kinds of religious worldviews can have a place in liberal democracies. An overlapping consensus of the kind that Rawls and Taylor envision is grounded in the commitment of citizens to their way of life and the corresponding ideals of the Good. Novak subscribes to the Rawlsian idea of overlapping consensus. His appeal to the Noahide laws illustrate the difficulties the sort of overlapping consensus necessary to justify a liberal democracy in a pluralist society.

Keywords: communitarian consensus; Haredim; liberal democracy; Noahide laws; overlapping consensus



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