Academic Programs 
      

Religion and Liberal Democracy in Modern Societies (HI-656)
Summer 2009

This course examines questions related to the relationship between religion and liberal democracy in modern, pluralistic societies. The focus will be on the interplay between faith and public life, theological discourse and political discourse, and religious conceptions of the good versus the liberal emphasis on individual liberty and autonomy. We will also consider some contemporary legal arguments in the United States on issues ranging from prayer in public schools to the funding of faith-based groups to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. There will be opportunities for Muslims to reflect on similar themes in the Islamic tradition.

 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday, June 15 – Friday, June 19, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Brett Wilmot
Adjunct Professor of History, and Associate Director, Ethics Program, Villanova University

Contact Information:
phone: 

email:

 


Course Syllabus



Course Description
This course examines questions related to the relationship between religion and liberal democracy in modern, pluralistic societies. The focus will be on the interplay between faith and public life, theological discourse and political discourse, and religious conceptions of the good versus the liberal emphasis on individual liberty and autonomy. We will also consider some contemporary political topics relevant to these concerns. While the theological perspectives considered will tend to come from Christian sources, there will be some attention paid to Islam and liberal democracy.

Required Texts (additional material to be made available as .pdf files)

Jeffrey Stout, Democracy and Tradition (Princeton University Press, 2004)

Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Religion in the Public Square: The Place of Religious Convictions in Political Debate (Rowman and Littlefield, 1997)

Franklin Gamwell, Politics as a Christian Vocation: Faith and Democracy Today (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Michael Perry, Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Graded Work
Participation during residency: 20%
Short paper: 30%
Final Paper: 50%

Late paper will receive a penalty of up to a letter for each day past the deadline at the discretion of the instructor.

CLASS SCHEDULE

Pre-residency Reading

John Rawls, “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” (.pdf file)
Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Religion in the Public Square: The Place of Religious Convictions in Political Debate (entire)
Michael Perry, Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy (Part I)

Residency Week

6/15 A.M Session: Discuss Rawls

P.M. Session: Discuss Audi and Wolterstorff, pp. ix–66

Evening Reading

Michael Perry, Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy, pp. 55–85

6/16 A.M. Session: Discuss Audi and Wolterstorff, pp. 67–120

P.M. Session: Discuss Audi and Wolterstorff, pp. 121–74

Evening Reading

Perry, Under God? pp. 86–130

6/17 A.M. Session: Discuss Perry, Part I

P.M. Session: Discuss Perry, pp. 55–85

Evening Reading

Elizabeth A. Barre, “Within Reason: The Epistemic Foundations of Catholic and Muslim Arguments for Political Liberalism” (.pdf file)

6/18 A.M. Session: Discuss Perry, pp. 86–130

P.M. Session: Discuss Barre

Evening Reading

Jeffrey Stout, Democracy and Tradition, chap. 3

6/19 A.M. Session: Discuss Stout, chap. 3

P.M. Session: Discuss assignments and arrangements for remainder of course

Post-residency Readings and Assignments

Readings (required)

Stout, Democracy and Tradition (entire)

Franklin Gamwell, Politics as a Christian Vocation: Faith and Democracy Today (entire)

Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Jeffrey Stout on Democracy and Its Contemporary Christian Critics” (.pdf file)

Brett Wilmot, “Defending Democracy against Its ‘Cultured Despisers’: A Critical Consideration of Some Recent Approaches” (.pdf file)

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, “The Interdependence of Religion, Secularism, and Human Rights: Prospects for Islamic Societies” (.pdf file)

Michael Sandel, “The Public Philosophy of Contemporary Liberalism” (.pdf file)

Additional Readings (suggested)

Nicholas Wolterstorff, “An Engagement with Rorty” (.pdf file)

Richard Rorty, “Religion in the Public Square: A Reconsideration” (.pdf file)

Mark Cherry, “Foundations of the Culture Wars: Compassion, Love, and Human Dignity” (.pdf file)

Jeffrey Stout, “Charity Transcends the Culture Wars: Eugene Rogers and Others on Same-Sex Marriage” (.pdf file)

Louis Groarke, “What Is Freedom? Why Christianity and Theoretical Liberalism Cannot Be Reconciled” (.pdf file)

Assignments

  1. Write a review of either Stout’s of Gamwell’s book (1,500–2,000 words; this should be emailed to me as a Word document no later than Friday, July 17). You are free to use whatever citation model that you prefer as long as you apply it consistently. Papers should be double spaced throughout and use 12-point Times New Roman font.
  2. Write a final paper on a topic of your choosing related to our course materials and discussions. You can make use of outside research, but the thesis and analysis should be driven primarily by engagement with the course materials we’ve covered (4,000–5,000 words; this should be emailed to me as a Word document no later than Monday, August 24). You are free to use whatever citation model that you prefer as long as you apply it consistently. Papers should be double spaced throughout and use 12-point Times New Roman font.

 


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500  info@hartsem.edu