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date: 24 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter defends authority in traditional religious communities on the same general grounds used by Joseph Raz in his well-known defence of the authority of the state in the context of political liberalism. The argument proceeds by discussing practical and epistemic authority in small communities, and then extends it to the justification of authority embedded in religious traditions. The conclusion is that, ironically, a modern liberal defence can be given for authorities in communities such as the Catholic Church that are pre-modern or even anti-modern in structure. The perceived conflict between the premodern acceptance of authority and a modern perspective centred on the authority of the self over the self is an illusion.

Keywords: authority, religious communities, Joseph Raz, traditions, liberalism, Normal Justification thesis

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