Religion, Civil Religion, and the Common Good London Metropolitan University, 20th-21st June, 2012


This two-day conference will explore the following issues:

  • What is the common good?
  • What have philosophers, such as Aquinas, Rousseau or Rawls, contributed to our understanding of the common good or of the public interest?
  • What should be learned about the common good from Catholic, Protestant, Judaic or Islamic traditions?
  • Does the very fact of religious pluralism entail that religion is now more an obstacle than an impetus to the common good?
  • Does modern politics promote a civil substitute for traditional religion?
  • How might particular communities or subsidiary institutions contribute to a wider common good?
  • How are disputes about the common good best resolved?
  • What are the prospects — in local communities, in the British state, and elsewhere — of actualizing the common good?
More details here.


Wednesday 20th June
Prof. Ronald Beiner (University of Toronto), “Secularism as a Common Good”.
Prof. Timothy Chappell (Open University), “Delivering the Goods”.
Dr Patrick Riordan, S.J. (Heythrop College, University of London), tba.
Thursday 21st June
Prof. Jeremy Carrette (University of Kent), tba.
Prof. Brian Girvin (Glasgow University), tba.
Lord Glasman of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill (London Met), tba.


The controversial topic of religion, secularism and the common good is the focus of an international conference to be held in the heart of London, bringing together moral philosophers, political theorists, policy-makers, theologians and others to debate the idea and pursuit of the common good. Whereas secularization was once presumed to progressively marginalize faith, religious actors now refuse political marginalisation. The conference will ask how, why and to what purpose religious traditions and organisations promote political ideals. Perhaps they do so because they believe that modern individualism is contrary to the true common good, or because they believe it important to promote the modern idea of a common good of rights-bearing citizens. Perhaps it is because they believe that the idea of the common good is crucial to the defence of social welfare, or even of society itself, or because they believe that a common good can now only be pursued within particular communities. The controversial and topical nature of the subject should stimulate new academic and policy thinking, in the UK and elsewhere.