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Title page for ETD etd-07132012-105713

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Nicholson, Elizabeth Williams
URN etd-07132012-105713
Title An Open Quest: The Public, the Private and the Possibility for an Ethos of Mutual Respect
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Victor Anderson Committee Chair
Don Welch Committee Member
Melissa Snarr Committee Member
Ted Smith Committee Member
  • mutual respect
  • private sphere
  • Public sphere
  • liberal theory
  • public religion
Date of Defense 2012-06-13
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation examines the differing construals of the public/private relationship as distinction, hierarchy and, paradox, and the theoretical implications of these construals, in order to gain clarity on the public role of religion and the possibility for a liberal ethos of mutual respect. Through an analysis of these differing construals, it is shown that rights have no independent force of their own, but are inextricably tied to conceptions of the good. The interrelatedness of the right and the good calls for a certain level of public morality appropriate to social life in a shared moral context. This shared moral context entails a moral commitment to pluralism that theoretically and practically calls for a public religious voice and the public morality that best honors this commitment is expressed in an ethos of mutual respect. A core argument of the dissertation is that William Galston’s ethical liberalism provides a far more satisfactory theoretical foundation for an ethos of mutual

respect than either John Rawls’s political liberalism or William Sullivan’s civic republicanism for it alone pays adequate heed to the interrelatedness of such concepts as public and private, or political and religious, and how this interrelatedness points toward an ethos of mutual respect. Support for the argument for an ethos of mutual respect is provided by way of the practical example of the use of the religious voice by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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