Freedom of Conscience and the Value of Personal Integrity
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Ratio Juris, 2016, 29 (2), pp. 246 - 263
- Issue Date:
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© 2016 The Author. Ratio Juris © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Certain philosophers have argued in favour of recognising a (moral and legal) right to freedom of conscience that includes a defeasible right of individuals to live in accordance with their perceived moral duties. This right requires the government to exempt people from general laws or regulations that prevent them from acting consistently with their perceived moral duties. The importance of protecting individuals’ integrity is sometimes invoked in favour of accommodating conscience. I argue that personal integrity is valuable since autonomy, identity (selfhood) and self-respect are all dependent on the preservation of personal integrity. I respond to two objections, one pressed by Andrew Koppelman and the other by Richard Arneson, to the claim that personal integrity is valuable, and to a further argument by Arneson to the effect that it is unfair to others claiming accommodations to exempt those with conscience-based claims.
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