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Religion in the Public Square: The Place of Religious Convictions in Political Debate (Point/Counterpoint: Philosophers Debate Contemporary Issues) Paperback – December 26, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0847683420 ISBN-10: 0847683427
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Religion in the Public Square: The Place of Religious Convictions in Political Debate (Point/Counterpoint: Philosophers Debate Contemporary Issues) + Religion in Politics: Constitutional and Moral Perspectives + Christ and Culture (Torchbooks)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

An extremely valuable contribution on the place of religious ideas in our country's political life. . . . Clearly written and accessible . . . this book will greatly enrich both those seeking an introduction to the place of religious conviction in political life and those who have already engaged that troubling subject. (Kent Greenwalt, Columbia University Law School The Philosophical Review)

Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff are two of the most thoughtful voices in the contemporary debate about the proper role of religion in politics. Their book, Religion In The Public Square, makes an important contribution. I recommend it highly. (Michael J. Perry, Northwestern University)

The book presents two sides to the question of the role of religion in the public square. Both positions are well argued, informed and clearly presented. While the book's clarity makes it an excellent source for an undergraduate course, it does such a good job of bringing out key issues that it stands as a contribution to an understanding of the foundations of liberal democracy valuable in its own right. (Jacqueline Marina, Purdue University Teaching Philosophy, September 1998)

Audi and Wolterstorff have provided us with a robust exchange, one that is accessible to a wide audience yet sophisticated enough to appeal to specialists in the field. As political theorists and philosophers continue to take up these issues, they would be wise to turn to this text for guidance on how to understand these questions from the perspective of contemporary philosophers of religion. (Brett T. Wilmot, Chicago, Illinois The Journal Of Religion)

Singly and by their disagreements, Audi and Wolterstorff show how complex is the issue of what role religious convictions may play in the public life of liberal democracies. Their debate is itself a model of the richer political discussion our society needs. (Charles Larmore, Columbia University)

Anyone wanting a deeper understanding of the philosophical issues at stake in the debate between liberal neutrality and faith-based morality needs to study this book carefully. (Ethics and Medicine)

The book is of a model clarity , careful thinking, and reasoned dialogue. It makes a valuable contribution to the religion and liberalism debate. (Religious Studies Review)

Audi and Wolterstoff demonstrate the complex realities surrounding religious and political arguments concerning the need for a consistent ethical rationale for determining the proper presence of religious principles in political debate. Their arguments highlight the contemporary dialogue between political liberalism and theologically based responses. (Andrews University Seminary Studies)

This book is a carefully reasoned and temperate discussion on both sides. It deserves to be read by all concerned about issues of church and state. (Terrorism and Political Violence)

About the Author

Robert Audi is Charles J. Mach Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska, the author of numerous books and articles, and the editor of "The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy". Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale University and the author of, among other books, "Divine Discourse" and "John Locke and the Ethics of Belief".
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Product Details

  • Series: Point/Counterpoint: Philosophers Debate Contemporary Issues
  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (December 26, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847683427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847683420
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John Davenport on January 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is appropriate for an upper level philosophy seminar in the major, and will also be of interest to graduate students in political science and law. The debate between Audi and Wolterstorff is not really about the entire multifaceted topic of the "separation of church and state" in the United States (a lot of which concerns the scope of freedom of religious practice and strict limitations on public funding of religious causes). The debate is actually about a much more focused topic central to democratic theory: in a nation governed by a legitimate democratic process of law and policy formation through open debate and voting, what sort of considerations is it morally legitimate for citizens invoke in deciding what laws and policies to support, and appealing to others to share their views? (Thus the question is about moral norms of citizenship, not legal norms governing actual democratic processes). In Rawlsian lingo, this is a question about the content of "public reason." Audi believes citizens in a democracy ought not invoke religious beliefs, whereas Wolterstorff thinks such beliefs are on the same epistemic footing as all other considerations on which citizens must draw in making rational judgments about the common good of their society. Other authors who have contributed to this debate include Michael Perry, John Rawls, Phillip Quinn, and the authors featured in Paul Weithman's collection. The biggest drawback of all this literature, including this book, is that the interlocutors on both sides are unfamiliar with the growing body of work on the deliberative theory of democracy coming out of the republican tradition in jurisprudence and out of discourse ethics in continental philosophy. So they to not address the implications of deliberative models of democracy for the issue of appeal to religious convictions in political action.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marie Butson on October 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to read this for class and it was slow going, but Audi and Wolterstorff offer differing opinions on the role of religion and religious speech in the public sphere.
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7 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mavaddat Javid on April 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is supposed to be part of a series of texts that provide a point counterpoint format, parallelling something of a debate on some interesting subject. "Religion in the Public Square" is not a debate, however, but two parallel essays with reflective commentaries on each by the opposing author. Ironically, each of the essays describes largely the SAME position (that of the ideal of liberal democracy, which protects religious liberties and the neutrality of the state with respect to religion) but they have only subtle philosophical differences. For example, Wolterstorff thinks that any reasons whatever should be allowed in public discourse so long as they are persuasive to the people hearing them, and Audi thinks that the reasons given should have constituted a significant part of the basis for why the person employing those reasons accepts them himself. Hardly the basis for an interesting discussion, one might say.

Unfortunately, neither author writes their essays in an argumentative format nor do they even have the other author in mind when they write their essays. Thus, they often repeat the same concepts using different language and different terminology, which only adds to the confusion of the book.

The first author, Robert Audi, presents his arguments with little or no structure in an almost stream of conscience format. Although he ultimately has important arguments lurking about, they get lost amongst his many useless, technical distinctions that he forgets about as soon as he raises them (as if they were important distinctions for their own sake). If the book was a debate, he would be making points and repeating them without telling us why they are important in the larger context of the debate.
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5 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
I was forced to read this for a college course. It is harder to read than it needs to be, and the book could actually be half as long as it is. There have GOT to be better books than this one on the same subject.
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