In Religion and Radical Pluralism: Engaging Rawls and Gandhi, Jeff Shawn Jose confronts the question of the role of religion in the public sphere through the writings of John Rawls and Mahatma Gandhi. Jose explores Rawls’s and Gandhi’s contrasting and complementary views through the framework of three objections—integrity, fairness, and divisiveness—against a view of public reason that restricts the expression of religious arguments in the public sphere. The book introduces Gandhi’s ideas into Rawls’s political liberal framework and brings Rawls’s ideas into the Gandhian religious framework, a critical and creative encounter where the relationship between Gandhian and Rawlsian approaches becomes a fertile ground for reciprocal, dialectical reflections. Religion and Radical Pluralism teases out and evaluates the tensions and prospects in Rawls’s and Gandhi’s views on the role of religion in the public sphere, thus offering a pertinent contribution to the study of radical pluralism in contemporary societies.
Jeff Shawn Jose is assistant professor in the Faculty of Philosophy and director of the Centre for the Study of World Religions at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram.
Chapter 1: Western Secularisation and Religious Pluralism
Chapter 2: Secularisation and Religious Diversity in India
Chapter 3: Rawls and Religion in the Public Sphere
Chapter 4: Gandhi and Religion in the Public Sphere
Chapter 5: A Gandhian Critique of Rawls
Chapter 6: A Rawlsian Critique of Gandhi
Conclusion: Towards a Prospective Framework of the Political and the Religious
The innovative character of this book lies in a confrontation between John Rawls’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s views of the place of religion in the public sphere, marked by radical pluralism. The author not only gives a critical analysis of Rawls’s ideas on this matter from a Gandhian perspective but also criticizes Gandhi’s religious ideas from Rawls’s liberal point of view. To make this confrontation academically sound and fair, the author needs an intermediate between the ideas of these two thinkers: he introduces three fundamental objections, which have been raised against Rawls’s ideas from a religious perspective, viz. the integrity objection, the fairness objection, and the divisiveness objection. These objections serve as the theoretical groundwork for a well-argued critique of Rawls from a Gandhian perspective. Moreover, since Rawls and other proponents of political liberalism have extensively responded to these objections, they can, in turn, be employed to discuss the weaknesses of Gandhi’s views from a Rawlsian point of view. The confrontation between a Western and non-Western perspective on the role of religion in the public sphere makes this book highly relevant to the ongoing debate about this fundamental question.
"Provincializing” (Chakrabarty) Europe and the West without merely dismissing Western thought is what scholars, in these times of globalization, should attempt to perform. Through a close comparison of Rawls and Gandhi and the discussion of some other theories on religion in modernity, both Western (Casanova and Taylor) and Indian (Kaviraj and Bhargava), Jeff Shawn Jose argues for an inclusive perspective on multiple democracies, for a theory that allows to take the articulation of Indian democracy as well as the role of religion in the public sphere into account.
It is not religious disenchantment or shelving of religion to the private sphere that marks our age but its recasting in new forms and modes of appeal. A fair Political dispensation that upholds citizen equality and liberties faces new challenges in this context. This study counterposes Gandhi to Rawls to demonstrate the challenges a religious believer confronts even in a political system committed to citizen equality and Liberties. The ground that this encounter breaks opens up new possibilities of engagement in nurturing self-hood, citizen engagement and political inclusion.
What are the chances for global democracy in a world where religion refuses to be marginalized? In this fascinating study, Jeff Shawn Jose shows readers how a profound answer can be found through careful engagement with two paradigmatic philosophers: Gandhi and Rawls. From Gandhi’s side, we see how religious insights support key democratic values of equal respect, self-rule, community, and independence. From Rawls, we see how political liberalism entails vibrant conceptions of justice, radical pluralism, and fairness that is supported by civic friendship and institutional life. When their voices are put into close conversation with each other, we see how Gandhi and Rawls can help guide our global inquiries toward common grounds of democratic flourishing.