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Religious Pluralism and Values in the Public Sphere

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  • Date Published: March 2014
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139899475

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About the Authors
  • How can we, as people and communities with different religions and cultures, live together with integrity? Does tolerance require us to deny our deep differences or give up all claims to truth, to trade our received traditions for skepticism or relativism? Cultural philosopher Lenn E. Goodman argues that we can respect one another and learn from one another's ways without either sharing them or relinquishing our own. He argues that our commitments to our own ideals and norms need not mean dogmatism or intolerance. In this study, Goodman offers a trenchant critique of John Rawls's pervasive claim that religious and metaphysical voices must be silenced in the core political deliberations of a democracy. Inquiry, dialogue, and open debate remain the safeguards of public and personal sanity, and any of us, Goodman illustrates, can learn from one another's traditions and explorations without abandoning our own.

    • Provides a penetrating exploration of key norms of humanity against the backdrop of the more expansive expectations of the Ten Commandments
    • Argues an alternative to the vision of a hierarchical polity that meets Rawlsian standards of 'decency' not by internal, religiously motivated, intellectually guided reform but by postulate
    • Re-examines the idea that skepticism or relativism may seem the highroad to tolerance and world peace
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Lenn Goodman invites us to consider - through insight, suggestion, and example - how mature, thoughtful pluralists would decide about matters of public policy, human rights, and humanitarian intervention. While he does not scant highly empirical, topical political discussions, he traces the values that inform such current discussions down to their philosophical foundations. In this way, Goodman’s book is a unique contribution to the literature on pluralism. It is written in an inimitable literary style; its prose is resonant with rich descriptions, vivid examples, evocative commentaries on texts from several religious traditions, lucidly argued moral suasion, and careful scholarly criticism."
    Alan Mittleman, The Jewish Theological Seminary

    "Lenn Goodman offers a sustained critique of John Rawls’s still influential 1993 book, Political Liberalism. Goodman argues that Rawls’s professed ‘pluralism’ fails as it eliminates religious voices from the public discourse he envisions for democratic societies. Instead, Goodman argues for the necessity of metaphysical affirmations, especially affirmations of human nature, in formulating any coherent ethical-political system, with religions as the usual sites of metaphysically founded ways of life. Goodman’s writing is refreshingly non-technical, and his scholarship is thorough in both classical religious and philosophical sources, as well as in the secondary literatures about these classical sources and about Rawls’s philosophy."
    David Novak, University of Toronto

    "… a significant work that straddles the boundaries of political philosophy and religious ethics. Goodman’s style of rich description, evocative examples, and a deep knowledge of both Rawls and the religious traditions under consideration made this volume a pleasure to read."
    Angus M. Slater, SCTIW Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2014
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139899475
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Religious pluralism
    2. Naked in the public square
    3. Minima and maxima
    4. The road to Kazanistan
    Some concluding thoughts.

  • Author

    Lenn E. Goodman, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
    Lenn E. Goodman is Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. A summa cum laude graduate from Harvard University, he received his D.Phil. as a Marshall Scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His many books include Creation and Evolution, Love thy Neighbor as Thyself (2010), In Defense of Truth: A Pluralistic Approach (2001) and God of Abraham (1996), winner of the 1997 Gratz Centennial Prize. Goodman serves on the editorial boards of History of Philosophy Quarterly and Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and is an associate editor of Asian Philosophy. He has served as Vice President and Program Chair of the Institute for Islamic/Judaic Studies, as well as Program Chair for the APA panels of the Academy for Jewish Philosophy.

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