This essay summarizes crucial ways that society—in particular, the United States—has treated claims by individuals to be free of generally required duties because their convictions tell them that performing the duties is deeply wrong. Among the topics I address are how the Supreme Court decisions involving constitutional rights and organizational claims relate to this treatment, but my main focus is on what I see as the critical issues and what I believe to be the wise choices for addressing such claims. Without attempting an extensive account of all that has been written on claims of exemptions, I refer to some relatively recent books that can help one to understand what is at stake and what can be said in favor of competing positions. I also provide references to recent and forthcoming work of my own that explores claims of exemptions in greater depth.
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