Course Syllabus: Church and State
 

Philosophy 163: Church and State

Spring 2005

 

Course Overview

            Most Americans are committed to religious freedom.  That is, they believe that people should be free to engage in religious practices without interference from the government.  However, it sometimes incumbent upon the government to curtail the performance of actions that are understood by their practitioners to be entirely religious in nature.  To take a particularly stark example, no one thinks that the government should allow potential suicide bombers to carry out their plans simply because the bombers take themselves to be engaging in acts of religious devotion.  The aim of this course it thus to examine how religious ways of life are sometimes in tension with the values of western liberal democracies and to explore some of the ways in which theorists have attempted to resolve this tension. 

 

Required Texts

Stephen L. Carter, The Culture of Disbelief

John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Michael Sandel, Democracy’s Discontent

There is also a course packet for purchase at The Copy Shop.  (I have not ordered Religion in the Public Square from the bookstore.  There is an e-copy available through the library online or you can purchase your own through independent channels.  We will be reading the whole book.)

 

Requirements

Two 3-4 page essays (15% each), one 4-6 page essay (25%), one 6-8 page essay (35%), and regular class participation (10%).  (I also reserve the right to administer periodic reading quizzes.  Should this happen, the above percentages will be altered slightly.)

 

Course of Study

1/20  Introduction

 

The nature of religious belief: Rationality

1/25  Anthony Flew, “The Presumption of Atheism” (CP, 1-12)

1/27  Bertrand Russell, “Has Religion Contributed to Civilization?” (CP, 14-22)

2/1    Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Can Belief in God be Rational?”: Sections I-VI (CP, 23-35)

2/3    “Can Belief in God be Rational?”: Sections VII-Appendix (CP, 35-46)

 

The nature of religious belief: Commitment

2/8    Stanley Fish, “Postmodern Warfare: The Ignorance of Our Warrior Intellectuals” (CP, 50-59)

2/10  Stephen L. Carter, The Culture of Disbelief: Chapters 1 and 2

 

Visions of a liberal society: Mill

2/15  On Liberty: Chapter I  (Essay 1 Due)

2/17  On Liberty: Chapters II and III

2/22  On Liberty: Chapters IV and V

 

Visions of a liberal society: Sandel

2/24  Democracy’s Discontent, Chapter 1

3/1    Democracy’s Discontent, Chapter 2

3/3    Democracy’s Discontent, Chapter 3  (Essay 2 Due)

3/8 & 3/10 Spring Break

3/15   Democracy’s Discontent, Chapter 4

 

Tolerance

3/17   John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration

3/22   A Letter Concerning Toleration

3/24   Stanley Fish, “Mission Impossible” (CP, 73-85)

3/29   T. M. Scanlon, “The Difficulty of Tolerance” (CP, 65-72)

3/31   Stephen Carter, The Culture of Disbelief: Chapters 3-5

 

Religion and Political Discourse

4/5     Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Religion in the Public Square: pp. 1-66. 

4/7     Religion in the Public Square: pp. 67-120

4/12   Religion in the Public Square: pp. 121-174

4/14   Stephen Carter, The Culture of Disbelif: Chapters 11-13  (Essay 3 Due)

           

The First Amendment and Separation

4/19   Stanley Fish, “Vicki Frost Objects” (CP, 60-64)

4/21   Stephen Carter, The Culture of Disbelief: Chapters 6-8

4/26   Amy Gutmann, “Religion and State in the United States” (CP, 86-103)

4/28   Kent Greenawalt, “Five Questions About Religion” (CP, 106-125)

5/3     Conclusion

 

5/10   (Essay 4 Due)