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Language Use in the Public Sphere

Methodological Perspectives and Empirical Applications

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Edited By Inés Olza Moreno, Óscar Loureda Lamas and Manuel Casado

This book comprises a range of general discussions on tradition and innovation in the methodology used in discourse studies (Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Argumentation Theory, Rhetoric, Philosophy) and a number of empirical applications of such methodologies in the analysis of actual instances of language use in the public sphere – in particular, discourses arising in the context of the debate on the presence of religious symbols in public places.
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Religious Symbols in Public Spaces: Ethical and Legal Arguments: Andrés Ollero

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ANDRÉS OLLERO

Religious Symbols in Public Spaces: Ethical and Legal Arguments1

Symbols are not simply another object of law; law itself is symbolic. Law does not use language as an instrument; law itself is a language that articulates a particular type of meaning. The neutrality of the public space as such is asserted, without first determining if this is to be achieved by agreement among the plurality of believers or between believers and non-believers. A further problem in this regard is to establish whether or not a given symbol is religious, and when it may become an object of law on juridical grounds. Finally, given that the true meaning of a symbol may be called into question, an authoritative definition of such meaning may also be required.

Keywords: Religious symbols; Neutrality; Positive secularism; Public order; Islamic veil; Crucifixes; Justice and tolerance.

Given that it is shaped by the principle of legality, European legal culture has come to equate law as such with a more or less (less rather than more) compatible set of legal texts. Surprisingly, this crude conception of legal reality draws a remarkable degree of support in theoretical terms. However, since it lacks a significant sense of critical reflection, such support cannot be described as philosophical. ← 503 | 504 →

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