Obligations in Agreement: Pluralism, Liberalism, and the Conditions for Stability.

Conflicts between law and religion strain citizens’ commitment to their political order, as their religious and political loyalties are forced into competition. As a consequence, the stability of the political order — its capacity to endure with the support of the people who live under it — is weakened. A thoroughly stable political system, in contrast, must strive to align the obligations it imposes on citizens with the obligations that those citizens bear by virtue of their religious or moral commitments.

Obligations in Agreement argues that the principles at the core of political liberalism — equality, liberty, and neutrality — are the only principles capable of achieving this alignment in a context of pluralism. Political liberalism is, therefore, a necessary condition for political stability. I illustrate the implications of this conclusion by examining contemporary debates in law and public policy that are generated by religious pluralism — including the issues of religious accommodation and religious establishment. This book shows that stability requires nuanced application of the principles of political liberalism to instances of intractable conflict between citizens’ religious practices or beliefs and the laws that govern them.

PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLES:   (Copies available upon request.)

“The Impartiality of Smith’s Spectator: The Problem of Parochialism and the Possibility of Social Critique,” European Journal of Political Theory 17 (2018): 174-193.

“A Mysterious, Unaccountable Mixture of Good and Evil: Thomas Merton on Cooperation and Complicity,” The Merton Annual 30 (2017): 88-101.

“Judicial Evaluation of Religious Belief and the Accessibility Requirement in Public Reason,” Law & Philosophy 35 (2016): 435-460.

“Federalism and the Catholic Principle of Subsidiarity,” Publius: The Journal of Federalism 45 (2015): 526-551.

“The Globalization of Catholic Social Teaching,” Journal of Catholic Social Thought 12 (2015): 87-108.

“What Kind of World Lover? Thomas Merton on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Death-of-God Theology,” The Merton Annual 23 (2011): 197-211.