Reading Group: Liberal Politics and Public Faith

This post is to announce, and perhaps provide a stable page for linking to posts related to, our reading group on Kevin Vallier’s Liberal Politics and Public Faith. I am modeling this post and the general direction of the group after the successful reading groups here on the Public Reason Blog. The schedule and list of commenters is below, with the posts being weekly starting October 18th. Following Kevin’s precedent, “I suggest that we divide the posts roughly into an expository part and a critical part. I also hope that we can structure criticisms so as to facilitate constructive discussion. Discussion in the comments should focus largely on the issues raised in the post.”

Here is the publisher’s jacket description of the book: In the eyes of many, liberalism requires the aggressive secularization of social institutions, especially public media and public schools. The unfortunate result is that many Americans have become alienated from the liberal tradition because they believe it threatens their most sacred forms of life. This was not always the case: in American history, the relation between liberalism and religion has often been one of mutual respect and support. In Liberal Politics and Public Faith: Beyond Separation, Kevin Vallier attempts to reestablish mutual respect by developing a liberal political theory that avoids the standard liberal hostility to religious voices in public life. He claims that the dominant form of academic liberalism, public reason liberalism, is far friendlier to religious influences in public life than either its proponents or detractors suppose. The best interpretation of public reason, convergence liberalism, rejects the much-derided “privatization” of religious belief, instead viewing religious contributions to politics as a resource for liberal political institutions. Many books reject privatization, Liberal Politics and Public Faith: Beyond Separation is unique in doing so on liberal grounds.

The Schedule

October 18: Chapter 1 “Public Reason Liberalism – Religion’s Child and King” (Micah Schwartzman, Virginia)

October 24: Chapter 2 “The Religious Objections – The Faithful Revolt” (Dan Shahar, Arizona)

November 4: Chapter 3 “Reconciliation in Theory – A Strategy” (Andrew Lister, Queen’s University)

November 11: Chapter 4 “Convergence – One Problem, Many Solutions” (Blain Neufeld, UW-Milwaukee and the University of Toronto Centre for Ethics)

November 17: Chapter 5 “Moderate Idealization – Preserving Diversity” (Lori Watson, San Diego University)

November 23: Chapter 6 “Reconciliation in Law – Deliberation and Accommodation” (Chad Van Schoelandt, Arizona)

December 11: Chapter 7 “Reconciliation in Policy – Public Education” (Harry Brighouse, Wisconsin)

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