From social practices to reflective agency: a postsecular ethics of citizenship

Paolo Monti

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In “From Social Practices to Reflective Agency: A Postsecular Ethics of Citizenship,” Monti argues that instead of thinking of the ethics of citizenship as a static set of secular norms, we ought to think of the norms of citizenship as the outcome of a dynamic interaction between coequal citizens, each of whose perspectives and values are informed and transformed by the interaction. No single person or group—whether secular or religious—controls the meaning of citizenship, and consequently, the notion of a dichotomous choice between a purely secular and purely theological ideal of citizenship does not make sense. In this sense, Monti advocates an ethic of citizenship that transcends the traditional secular-religious divide. Monti’s account of citizenship is grounded in the analysis of our condition as “co-practitioners” in civil society. As active members of society—workers, activists, consumers, players, etc.—we constantly participate in a number of social practices, and these practices come with sets of embedded beliefs, rules, habits, and values. Within this framework, Monti suggests that a reflective consideration of the web of practical cooperative relationships that ordinarily characterize our agency as actors of civil society may adequately ground a normative ethics of citizenship. Every citizen is in fact dependent on social cooperation and is in some way responsible for it, yet nobody enjoys a complete monopoly of its constitutive cognitive and motivational resources. This reflective awareness affects the self-understanding of both religious and secular citizens and calls for an epistemic and practical disposition to cooperatively rearrange and reformulate one’s own arguments and actions in the light of the structural co-implication of one’s own belief with the beliefs of others within the same public spaces. On this approach, the notion of citizenship is also multilayered as is our belonging and participation in civil society, at a local, national, and global level, not necessarily bound to membership in a single political entity.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteThe Ethics of Citizenship in the 21st Century
EditorD Thunder
Numero di pagine18
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Citizenship
  • Ethics
  • Postsecularism
  • Religion


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