Can Interreligious Dialogue Provide a New Space for Deliberative Democracy in the Public Sphere?: Philosophical Perspectives from the Examples of the UK and Singapore
Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2018)
This paper uses Singapore and the UK as two case studies to explore the concept of deliberative democracy with specific reference to the way that interreligious dialogue is and may be used in the public sphere. The two countries are chosen as representing differently located but broadly secular nations where, nevertheless, religious and interreligious activities have prominence. The differences and similarities of the notion of secular as well as the way that religion and interreligious activity relate to the state are noted. While both countries have promoted interreligious dialogue primarily as a tool for social cohesion it is noted that this activity does not tie easily or neatly into conceptions of deliberative democracy. Employing ideas from Jürgen Habermas and other theorists of deliberation, some central aspects of what deliberation may be in the context of deliberative democracy are explored. It is suggested that interreligious dialogue is far from a simple solution to promote harmonious relations within such a context, but nevertheless it is noted that what is often termed the “dialogue of action” has the potential to improve social cohesion. It is noted that much interreligious dialogue may actually go against some of the principles often sought within deliberative democracy but this is not seen as invalidating the practice within the public sphere.
Author: Paul Hedges
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