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This paper considers whether a specific concept of accommodation might be useful to identify and address discrimination, disadvantages and disparities in such a way that religious people, with their beliefs, values and practices, may be justly treated in healthcare. It identifies an important cluster of risks to the possibility of such a concept of accommodation taking effect in practice, emergent within philosophical bioethics and rooted in controversial political philosophy. While not amounting (yet) to a trend, they are sufficiently threatening to a just civic life for patients and healthcare staff to warrant scrutiny. Section I examines the contested meaning of ‘accommodation’ and evaluates Lori Beaman’s criticism of one concept of accommodation, a concept which suggests that the health-related requirements that those of religious faith demand should be considered additional, when compared to other people. This criticism of ‘accommodation’ is interrogated by contrasting Beaman’s ideas with Jonathan Chaplin’s positive proposal regarding ‘agonism’ and ‘accommodation’, and by examining the role of established religion in defining and making practicable the accommodation of religion and belief in healthcare. Section II examines risks to such accommodation by engaging critically with three health-related instantiations of political philosophy which differ radically from Chaplin’s view. A concluding Section III focuses on how accommodation relates to communication about religious and other beliefs in healthcare.


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religion, accommodation, public reason, agonism, conscience, clinical ethics, secularity