Conjecture and the Division of Justificatory Labour: A Comment on Clayton and Stevens

Baldwin Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Clayton and Stevens (Res Publica 20: 65–84, 2014) argue that political liberals should engage with the religiously unreasonable by offering religious responses and showing that their religious views are mistaken, instead of refusing to engage with them. Yet they recognize that political liberals will face a dilemma due to such religious responses: either their responses will alienate certain reasonable citizens, or their engagements will appear disingenuous. Thus, there should be a division of justificatory labour. The duty of engagement should be delegated to religious citizens. In this comment, I will argue that the division of justificatory labour is indefensible. This dilemma can be avoided if politicians and political philosophers correctly use conjecture, a form of discourse that involves non-public reason. As a conditional response, conjecture avoids alienating any reasonable citizens. Also, if conjecture is given in a sincere and open-minded manner, then the problem of disingenuousness can be overcome. My comment concludes that while the engagement of politicians and political philosophers does not necessarily jeopardize overlapping consensus, they should be permitted, or perhaps even required, to engage with the religiously unreasonable due to the natural duty of justice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-125
    Number of pages7
    JournalRes Publica
    Issue number1
    Early online date31 Oct 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Rawls
    • Political liberalism
    • Religion
    • Disobedience
    • Conjecture
    • Division of justificatory labour


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