INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE - Religious Perspectives on the Public Sphere: Neutrality, Pluralism and the Secular

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE - Religious Perspectives on the Public Sphere: Neutrality, Pluralism and the Secular

12/12/2011 20:00
15/12/2011 17:00

Organizers: University of Milan (RELIGARE), Minerva Center for Human Rights, Tel Aviv University and the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization, Cardozo Law School (New York, USA)

 

Abstract:

Legal scholars have commonly approached the relationship between State and Church starting from the conceptual framework that is dominant in contemporary liberal constitutionalism. Notions such as “public”, “secular”, “pluralism”, and “neutrality” have been discussed from the perspective of the modern state. This approach, however, offers only half of the picture. The workshop seeks to address similar questions from the internal perspectives of different religious traditions.

Some of the central questions that will be presented and discussed are:
 

- Is the public/private distinction significant in the legal traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam? If so, how is this distinction conceived? Which are its main characteristics? What are the most important differences between the “religious” conceptions and the conceptions prevailing in the legal traditions of liberal constitutionalism? How can “religious” conceptions of public and private contribute to the organization of contemporary society?

- What does the distinction between the secular and the sacred signify within the legal systems of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (provided this distinction exists)? Is there a link (historical, theological, philosophical, etc.) between this religious distinction and the development of the modern concept of secularism? Is the secular/sacred distinction a relic of a pre-modern age or has it something to say to contemporary society?

 

- From the point of view of liberal constitutionalism, religious neutrality of the public sphere is often considered to be the best way to grant equal rights to citizens; others prefer to look at pluralism as the best tool to combine difference and equality. According to the legal traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are “neutrality” and “pluralism” significant as organizational principles of the interactions that take place in the public sphere? If so, in which way? If not, what is the conceptual framework and what resources can the legal traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam provide to organize the public sphere in a way that respects the rights of the believers of different religions and of the non-believers?

 

The workshop is co-sponsored by the EU research program RELIGARE on “Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe”(http://www.religareproject.eu), The Minerva Center for Human Rights at Tel Aviv University, and the Cardozo Law School in New York. The workshop is also supported by a research grant of the Israeli Science Foundation.

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