French Laïcité, Free Speech, and Unreasonable Views

by Eric Schliesser on September 29, 2023

A few weeks ago, Cyril Hédoin responded insightfully and constructively (here) to an essay I recently published  @Liberal CurrentsSubsequently, he did a follow up piece in which he assimilated my stance on what I call the ‘platonic skepticism’ (more on that below) of liberalism  into a larger framework about different kinds of skepticism exhibited by liberals.

In the piece that triggered Hédoin’s response, I argued that so-called public reason liberalism (made influential by Rawls) and French Laïcité, or radical secularism, share three features: (i) they transcend the right/left opposition, (ii) they demand considerable public censorship, and (iii) they are both grounded in a Platonic skepticism about the ability of truth to dominate mere opinion in a democratic context.* My own alternative (liberal) position, accepts a version of (iii), but rejects (i-ii) as inimical to healthy liberal political life. So far so good.

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