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Religion in the Liberal Polity

Religion in the Liberal Polity

Edited by Terence Cuneo

" . . . a timely contribution to the important scholarly debate between religious faith and liberal politics.” —Philip Quinn, University of Notre Dame

How should a religious person view the role of rights in the liberal polity? What should the role of religious reasons be in public political discourse? Some prominent scholars have recently argued that religious persons ought to view the concept of a “right” as alien to a traditionally religious way of life. Others have suggested that there is no legitimate place for religious reasoning in public political discourse. Contributors to Religion in the Liberal Polity reject these positions by defending the claims that the concept of a “right” is central to traditional religion and that religious concerns belong in public political discourse.

Part one of the collection addresses foundational issues of rights and authority. In his essay, Nicholas Wolterstorff contends not only that rights exist, but that moral duties are determined by rights. Timothy P. Jackson raises the issue of how thinking about the imago dei may ground human rights issues for a Christian. John Hare explores whether there is an evolutionary account of natural right and justice capable of sustaining a liberal democracy. Paul Weithman contends that individuals who have rights are simultaneously protected and liberated by the possession of those rights. Terence Cuneo offers a justification for the provision and protection of religious civil liberties from the perspective of natural law theory. Mark Murphy considers the nature of the demands that the state can make on individual agents.

Part two explores religious reasons and virtuous conduct in the liberal polity. Essays by Jeffrey Stout, Christopher Eberle, Richard Mouw, and Kent Greenwalt all consider whether religious reasons should be employed in public political discourse. Merold Westphal’s concluding essay focuses on the political virtue of shame in both the liberal tradition and the history of philosophy generally.

Religion in the Liberal Polity will appeal to a wide range of students and scholars in philosophy, political science, theology, and law.

ISBN: 978-0-268-02288-4
280 pages
Publication Year: 2004

Terence Cunio is assistant professor of philosophy at The University of Vermont.

“. . . eleven contributors tease out, in fine detail and with impressive philosophical finesse, very specific aspects of the way Christian faith and liberal democracy interact in the USA at the beginning of the twenty-first century.” — Heythrop Journal

“Terence Cuneo has collected eleven essays, including one of his own, that seek to place religious reasoning back in the foundations of our liberal political philosophy. It accomplishes this task not by appealing to our history, using the kind of argument that says we betray our past if we forget our religious roots. It is, rather, a straightforward exercise in reason, which shows, from various angles, that a religious foundation for rights and justice is more secure than a secular one. The collection functions at a very high level of reasoned argument that repays careful reading. . . . The theme here, tightly and impressively argued, is that religious reasoning is a positive force when used with respect for those of other persuasions; it is realistic, honest, and attuned to the deepest sources of our convictions.” — Journal of Markets & Morality

“. . . the book is full of first-class work in moral theory and moral psychology. . . . I would highly recommend the book not only for graduate seminars in political philosophy, but also for anyone interested in central topics in contemporary normative theory and moral psychology. . . .” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“Religion in the Liberal Polity is, in many ways, a probing, incisive, and thoughtful festschrift for Nicolas Wolterstorff. . . . engaging and much-needed book. . . . Religion in the Liberal Polity is a must-read for those interested in the relationship between faith and politics, liberalism and religion.” — Anglican Theological Review

“. . . a wonderful series of essays. . . .” — Singing News

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Religion in the Liberal Polity


Edited by Terence Cuneo

 Religion in the Liberal Polity
Cloth Edition
Paper Edition

" . . . a timely contribution to the important scholarly debate between religious faith and liberal politics.” —Philip Quinn, University of Notre Dame

How should a religious person view the role of rights in the liberal polity? What should the role of religious reasons be in public political discourse? Some prominent scholars have recently argued that religious persons ought to view the concept of a “right” as alien to a traditionally religious way of life. Others have suggested that there is no legitimate place for religious reasoning in public political discourse. Contributors to Religion in the Liberal Polity reject these positions by defending the claims that the concept of a “right” is central to traditional religion and that religious concerns belong in public political discourse.

Part one of the collection addresses foundational issues of rights and authority. In his essay, Nicholas Wolterstorff contends not only that rights exist, but that moral duties are determined by rights. Timothy P. Jackson raises the issue of how thinking about the imago dei may ground human rights issues for a Christian. John Hare explores whether there is an evolutionary account of natural right and justice capable of sustaining a liberal democracy. Paul Weithman contends that individuals who have rights are simultaneously protected and liberated by the possession of those rights. Terence Cuneo offers a justification for the provision and protection of religious civil liberties from the perspective of natural law theory. Mark Murphy considers the nature of the demands that the state can make on individual agents.

Part two explores religious reasons and virtuous conduct in the liberal polity. Essays by Jeffrey Stout, Christopher Eberle, Richard Mouw, and Kent Greenwalt all consider whether religious reasons should be employed in public political discourse. Merold Westphal’s concluding essay focuses on the political virtue of shame in both the liberal tradition and the history of philosophy generally.

Religion in the Liberal Polity will appeal to a wide range of students and scholars in philosophy, political science, theology, and law.

ISBN: 978-0-268-02288-4

280 pages

“. . . eleven contributors tease out, in fine detail and with impressive philosophical finesse, very specific aspects of the way Christian faith and liberal democracy interact in the USA at the beginning of the twenty-first century.” — Heythrop Journal

“Terence Cuneo has collected eleven essays, including one of his own, that seek to place religious reasoning back in the foundations of our liberal political philosophy. It accomplishes this task not by appealing to our history, using the kind of argument that says we betray our past if we forget our religious roots. It is, rather, a straightforward exercise in reason, which shows, from various angles, that a religious foundation for rights and justice is more secure than a secular one. The collection functions at a very high level of reasoned argument that repays careful reading. . . . The theme here, tightly and impressively argued, is that religious reasoning is a positive force when used with respect for those of other persuasions; it is realistic, honest, and attuned to the deepest sources of our convictions.” — Journal of Markets & Morality

“. . . the book is full of first-class work in moral theory and moral psychology. . . . I would highly recommend the book not only for graduate seminars in political philosophy, but also for anyone interested in central topics in contemporary normative theory and moral psychology. . . .” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“Religion in the Liberal Polity is, in many ways, a probing, incisive, and thoughtful festschrift for Nicolas Wolterstorff. . . . engaging and much-needed book. . . . Religion in the Liberal Polity is a must-read for those interested in the relationship between faith and politics, liberalism and religion.” — Anglican Theological Review

“. . . a wonderful series of essays. . . .” — Singing News