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The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life download epub

by Austin Dacey


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Mr. Dacey seeks to shake secular liberalism from its complacency lest the Enlightenment project of an open society becomes run over by fundamentalist Christians and totalitarian Islam. Thanks to Mr. Dacey's elegant, mature and well-informed analysis, we gain the courage we need to assert our right to freedom of conscience and to challenge ideologies of belief in the public sphere

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Dacey passionately argues for a revitalized secular conscience as an ongoing, open-ended, fallible but . well-reasoned argument for progressive secularism

Dacey passionately argues for a revitalized secular conscience as an ongoing, open-ended, fallible but serious and assertive conversation about morality. With its discussions of the history, philosophy, theology, and science of how people think and talk about ethical truth, this book deserves to have significant impact upon the revitalization of the public sphere. well-reasoned argument for progressive secularism. PUBLISHERS WEEKLYAustin Dacey''s The Secular Conscience is sorely needed at a time when both the religious right and the religious left claim that there can be no public or private morality without religion.

Dacey deplores the current state of secular liberalism, hereafter simply liberalism, for its half-century reluctance to engage in debate about matters of conscience.

Austin Dacey, The secular conscience: Why belief belongs in public life (Amherst: Prometheus . Austin Dacey, The future of blasphemy: Speaking of the sacred in an age of human rights (London: Continuum Books, 2012)

Austin Dacey, The secular conscience: Why belief belongs in public life (Amherst: Prometheus Books 2008); ISBN 978-1-59102-604-4. Austin Dacey, The future of blasphemy: Speaking of the sacred in an age of human rights (London: Continuum Books, 2012); ISBN 978-1-4411-8392-7. a b Dacey, Austin (February 3, 2006).

How secularism lost its soul - Why belief belongs in public life (and unbelievers should be glad) - Spinoza's guide to theocracy - Why there are no religions of the book - Has God found science? -.

In this incisive book, philosopher Austin Dacey calls for a bold rethinking of the nature of conscience and its role in. .

In this incisive book, philosopher Austin Dacey calls for a bold rethinking of the nature of conscience and its role in public life. Introduction 7. 1. Secularism Lost Its Soul 23. 2. Why Belief Belongs in Public Life (And Unbelievers Should Be Glad) 43. 3. Spinoza's Guide to Theocracy 59. 4. Why There Are No Religions of the Book 85. 5. Has God Found Science? 97.

He notes that, when I published The Naked Public Square more than twenty years ago, liberal secularists had to a very large extent excluded from public discourse explicitly moral arguments¯and especially arguments associated with a recognizable religious tradition

What happens if a liberal philosopher writes a book about religion and the public life? . In terms of liberal thought, secularism does not and should not privatize conscience.

What happens if a liberal philosopher writes a book about religion and the public life? He will speak out and argue for a rigid secularism, placing. Why this is the case and why secular liberals did not loose their moral compass but gave it away is the attempt Austin Dacey sets out to answer in The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life. Dacey is a writer and human rights advocate in New York City. His pieces appeared in renowned periodicals such as the USA Today or the New York Times.

His new book is The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life. In this discussion with . Grothe, Austin Dacey argues that secularism has lost its sense of moral direction, ceding ground to religious positions it never should have

His new book is The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life. Grothe, Austin Dacey argues that secularism has lost its sense of moral direction, ceding ground to religious positions it never should have. He explores the impact this has on the secular left's criticism of the New Atheists, and its approach to radical Islam. He discusses the reasons secular liberalism doesn't ally itself with the secularizing elements in the Islamic world, and why he thinks it should, also addressing "Islamophobia" and the "American Taliban.

From Washington to the Vatican to Tehran, religion is a public matter as never before, and secular values — individual autonomy, pluralism, separation of religion and state, and freedom of conscience — are attacked on all sides and defended by few. The godly claim a monopoly on the language of morality, while secular liberals stand accused of standing for nothing.Secular liberals did not lose their moral compass: they gave it away. For generations, too many have insisted that questions of conscience — religion, ethics, and values — are "private matters" that have no place in public debate. Ironically, this ideology hinders them from subjecting religion to due scrutiny when it encroaches on individual rights and from unabashedly advocating their own moral vision in politics for fear of "imposing" their beliefs on others.In his incisive new book, philosopher Austin Dacey calls for a bold rethinking of the nature of conscience and its role in public life. Inspired by an earlier liberal tradition that he traces to Spinoza and John Stuart Mill, Dacey urges liberals to lift their self-imposed gag order and defend a renewed secularism based on the objective moral value of conscience.Dacey compares conscience to the press in an open society: it is protected from coercion and control, not because it is private, but because it has a vital role in the public sphere. It is free, but not liberated from shared standards of truth and right. It must come before any and all faiths, for it is what tells us whether or not to believe. In this way, conscience supplies a shared vocabulary for meaningful dialogue in a diverse society, and an ethical lingua franca in which to address the world.

Comments: (7)

Bundis
Many secularists think that belief is a private matter. Whatever anyone believes is his own concern. Consequently, when people of faith put their ideas forth in public they are to be left alone. Austin Dacey argues that this is a false conclusion. Why? Because there can be no real discussion when matters of conscience are left outside the public domain. You're left to `respect' the ideas of the other without being able to question any of them and thereby simultaneously giving up the possibility of defending your own. He calls this the Privacy Fallacy. A related misconception he defines as the Liberty Fallacy. This is the widely hold idea that freedom of belief means that it should be free of criticism. But if that were the case, no serious debate would be possible. How could you argue for or against abortion, stem cell research, the death penalty or euthanasia if your basic convictions get off scot-free? All the reasons why you hold certain views would be up in the air. It's the task of liberals and secularists to regain the right to public debate, including questioning matters of conscience like religion and faith, and to stand up for your own values - reason, tolerance, personal autonomy, the separation of church and state and so forth. Writing with wit and clarity, he offers an historical overview of this liberal tradition from Spinoza to Rawls.
The tone darkens considerably when in the penultimate chapter he discusses radical Islam. Dacey states that today Islamism has become the defining issue for liberals, just as Communism was for an earlier generation. Somehow, it's as if this chapter belongs to a different, and more pugnacious, book. Maybe it's because he, as he himself asserts, leans heavily on Bruce Bawer's "While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within". This section of the book is more politically tinged than the rest, and I can imagine that not everyone will agree with his analysis here. For example, I don't think you necessarily have to be suspicious of Tariq Ramadan in his quest for a dialogue. Some liberals view him as a wolf in sheep's clothing, while others do not. And even if Theo van Gogh could perhaps be seen as someone seeking discussion (hardly `conversation', mind you), he could also use an extremely abusive language, not fit for quoting in this forum. Living in the Netherlands, I can assure you that by portraying Van Gogh as Mr. Nice Guy and stating that `the culture of conversation cannot survive the toleration of intolerance, intimidation, and violence' (p.187), the author paints too simplified a picture of the events leading to his brutal murder (see also Ian Buruma's `Murder in Amsterdam').
Nevertheless, Austin Dacey has written a clear-sighted book about how `secularism has lost its soul' and has made a weighty contribution to the defense of secular values. "The Secular Conscience" convincingly explains why, as its subtitle suggests, Belief Belongs in Public Life.
Quphagie
"The Secular Conscience" by Austin Dacey presents a sophisticated meditation on secularism and its importance to us today. Mr. Dacey seeks to shake secular liberalism from its complacency lest the Enlightenment project of an open society becomes run over by fundamentalist Christians and totalitarian Islam. Thanks to Mr. Dacey's elegant, mature and well-informed analysis, we gain the courage we need to assert our right to freedom of conscience and to challenge ideologies of belief in the public sphere.

Mr. Dacey recounts the historical process by which the West broke with the Church and separated religion from government. Today, faith has come to be marketed to believers as their own private property and seeks to avoid accountability in political debate even as it exerts considerable influence over policy. Mr. Dacey submits that secularists must drop their predisposition to moral relativism and demand that Christians justify their positions on issues such as stem cell research and evolution based on reasonable standards of evidence and scientific inquiry.

On the other hand, Mr. Dacey explains that Islam has not undergone a process of separation from the state; the Islamic state is more accurately defined as a political form of religion. Mr. Dacey brings attention to courageous individuals who are challenging the blasphemy laws that preclude the free expression of the individual in Islamic society. The author castigates the Western media, feminists and others for their tolerance of intolerance and failing to recognize the threat that Islamic totalitarianism poses to our values; he goes on to implore us to support the youth in Iran and other Islamic states who yearn for a free, secular future.

Throughout the book, Mr. Dacey explores related ethical and philosophical themes and ideas that bring a remarkable depth of meaning to the text. We come to appreciate that the secular conscience is a moral conscience that is based on collective inquiry, reflection and consensus; this kind of dialogue is needed now more than ever if we wish to achieve lasting peace and justice for humankind.

I thank William Podmore for bringing my attention to this outstanding book and highly recommend it to everyone.
Olwado
It has long bothered me that some people refuse to categorically reject horrors like the Holocaust, because they believe everything is subjective, and all cultures and approaches have their virtues. Common sense indicates there should be some objective perspective that can help us to understand why Holocaust-like atrocities and tyrannical societies and governments are bad. Austin Dacey's powerful "Secular Conscience" explains how such objective standards can be formed. In a stroke of brilliant creativity, he uses the same types of ideas that have helped spearhead open source software approaches to operating systems.

I believe this to be one of the most important books that liberals--and anyone who cares about human rights--could possibly read. If you've wondered how to combat the ultimately pernicious ideas of cultural relativism that can be used to justify virtually any atrocity, this is the book.
Quemal
Austin Dacey makes an excellent case for open discussions of beliefs. Belief, and religion specifically, evolve by open discussion and critical review and comment. Liberals are right to insist people have a right to their beliefs, but wrong when they state belief is private. It's only private in the sense that it is not the business of the government.
The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life download epub
Philosophy
Author: Austin Dacey
ISBN: 1591026040
Category: Politics & Social Sciences
Subcategory: Philosophy
Language: English
Publisher: Prometheus Books; y First edition edition (March 18, 2008)
Pages: 269 pages