Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 July 2020
The chapter introduces the main claims of the book, how they are defended and their implications. The chapter then makes a positive case in favour of the general right to conscientious exemption and for it being equally available to religious and non-religious conscientious objectors. It argues that a non-absolute right to conscientious exemption is justified by reference to a cluster of moral values, including the demands of the state’s duty of neutral pluralism (the duty being grounded in the value of individual moral responsibility and respect for ethical pluralism), respect for personal autonomy, freedom of conscience and concern for individual well-being. The chapter justifies the institution of the general right by showing that it provides holders of minority moral views with an alternative forum, i.e. a court of law, where they may be able to bring a claim and ask for exemptions from legal obligations which impinge on their conscience. It concludes by showing that the justifications provided for exemptions generally and for the general right cannot justify the right being a privilege of only those that object on the basis of non-religious beliefs. Non-religious conscientious beliefs should also benefit from the general right.