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Religion and Public ReasonsCollected Essays Volume V$
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John Finnis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580095

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580095.001.0001

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Secularism's Practical Meaning

Secularism's Practical Meaning

(p.56) 3 Secularism's Practical Meaning
Religion and Public Reasons

John Finnis

Oxford University Press

This chapter distinguishes various types of secularization from secularism and commends Plato's analysis of secularism's main forms. An argument to the existence of God from the data of practical reason is sketched, and an idea of natural religion is identified along with its inevitable disengagement from its historic matrix, paganism. Secularized (secularist) Christian thought is critiqued, along with materialist misconstruals of human dignity, philosophical denials of causality as a block against arguments for divine causality, judicial denials of substantive values and the attempts to rationalize and extend those denials in the 1996 ‘Philosophers' Brief’ of Dworkin, Rawls, Nagel, and others for euthanasia or assisted suicide, and finally consequentialism (attractive to secularists for more than one kind of reason). An adequate understanding of the hope offered by authentic revelation is needed for an adequate response to secularism.

Keywords:   secularization, secularism, practical reason, existence of God, Dworkin, Rawls, Philosophers' Brief, consequentialism, materialism, human dignity

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