• Epistemic justification;
  • Kant;
  • modernity;
  • relativism;
  • secularism


This paper discusses Jeffrey Stout's thesis that modern societies are “secular,” not in the sense that religion has disappeared from them, but in a procedural sense having to do with what can properly be assumed by participants in moral or political discussion. I endorse this thesis, but argue that Stout employs a notion of justification (with regard to moral belief), which leans too far toward descriptivism or relativism. As an alternative account of the status of religion within “the hypercontext, modernity,” I commend Kant's view of the religious attitude as a fundamentally ethical one, destined eventually to dispense with any “historical vehicle” in the form of revealed doctrine or supernaturalism. Stout's discussion is weakened by its retreat from commitment to the unity of practical reason, though it does pay illuminating tribute to the democratic values of civility and attentiveness.