My Leninist neocon traitor (have I left any adjectives out?) friend Jonah Goldberg points to a controversy sparked by Damon Linker’s piece on Richard Rorty (noted here). I won’t bore you with the details, but it seems clear to me that both Matthew Yglesias and Damon Linker are too quick to assume that religious orthodoxy, privatized in a way consistent with some version of the so-called liberal bargain, can retain its spiritual vigor. The religion that Rawls (and Linker) are willing to tolerate has had its wings clipped, especially by the demand that its public speech be made in a language--"public reason"--foreign to the religious idiom.
I recognize that there’s a vague family resemblance between public reason and natural law, but the former has to eschew "foundationalist" claims in a way that the latter doesn’t and can’t. And I don’t see why anyone can’t use whatever arguments he or she wants in the public arena. We all still face the problem of persuasion in a constitutional order that exists in a religiously pluralistic society. (I vaguely recall the late Wilson Carey McWilliams making such a claim in his contribution to this book. If I’m wrong about that, someone’s sure to set me straight.)