Session II: Late Liberalism, Secularism and Religious Freedom
Standard liberal accounts promote secularism as the answer to an increasingly diverse and complex modern world. Perhaps, the most influential of these accounts is John Rawls’ Political Liberalism, which presents secularism as the response to a conflict caused by opposing values. In Rawls’ formulation, peaceful co-existence is guaranteed through a secular ideal of “overlapping consensus” arrived at in spite of diverse internal justifications. The public sphere, being the mediator of religious difference becomes secular — devoid of religion. The constitutional structure that creates this distinction – secularism – therefore becomes the answer to the conflicts over religious diversity and the guarantor of religious toleration. Commencing with Rawls, this session will consider the predominant late liberal ideas on secularism and their conception of its relationship to religious freedom. We will interrogate the three-fold promise of late liberal secularism: neutrality, equality, liberty both independently and in the light of what they reveal about secularism’s conceptualization of religious freedom.
This workshop has no pre-requisites and is open to all students.
For more information and workshop materials, visit: https://canvas.harvard.edu/courses/53563