Philosophy, Religion and Public Policy

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Philosophy, Religion and Public Policy: A two-day conference at the University of Chester as part of the AHRC Philosophy and Religious Practices Research Network 8th-9th April 2014

Confirmed Keynote Speakers Clayton Crockett, University of Central Arkansas Adam Dinham, Goldsmiths College, London Elaine Graham, University of Chester

Call for Papers Public policy, philosophy of religion and research on religion generally seem to live in their own separate bubbles without realising or even acknowledging the mutual benefit of dialogue etc. Hence, philosophers of religion (in both the continental and analytic traditions) have long been accused of distancing themselves from concrete religious practices. A key aim of the conference is thus potentially to reconnect philosophy with research on religion. We intend to investigate how philosophers and religious communities can communicate fruitfully, producing the kind of change outlined by Scott-Baumann, ‘Scepticism about philosophy [among faith communities] is replaced by a dialectical process of using philosophy to help people live together and look forward, alert to new possibilities.’

Public debate and policy often takes place at a superficial level that skirts and fights shy of the substantive issues underpinning conflict between religions and between religious and secular worldviews. The visibility of the New Atheist critique of religion is perhaps the most obvious example of this. The rationale of this conference is then both to start bringing these three discourses into a mutually-beneficial dialogue, but also to model ways in which such a dialogue can and should be undertaken. To this end, we welcome papers in one of the following three areas of debate and research Strand One: Economic and Political Regeneration • Case studies or thematic accounts of how philosophical and theological ideas and virtues (for example solidarity and discipline) speak into the post-2008 vacuum in European and US public life caused by the banking crash and subsequent global recession • The emergence of the postsecular as a potential vehicle for the rebalancing of public life in favour of (for example) the eudemonic alongside the hedonic, and virtuous alongside the utilitarian, common responsibilities alongside the rights of the individual, the sacred alongside the secular. • How public policy initiatives aimed at strengthening civil society through concepts such as the Third Way, Localism and most recently, the Big Society could be enhanced and/or critiqued by the application of insights praxes associated with Philosophy of Religion and world religions. • The use of themes and ideas from Philosophy of Religion and world religious traditions in developing strategic resources for the development of alternative discourses, imaginings and praxes towards more just and equitable ends and an expanded understanding of what it is to be human and live in a flourishing environment Strand Two: Rethinking Philosophy of Religion • Need to make Philosophy of Religion more aware of diversity and complexity of religious practices • How incorporate greater variety of sociological, anthropological or ethnographical data into philosophising about religion? • Relation of philosophical analysis to faith, but also to methodologies in other fields concerned with religion. I.e. does analysis necessarily falsify religious thought? • More participative – how can Philosophy of Religion engage and ‘talk’ better to religious practitioners? What models for dialogue are there? • How capture impact that Philosophy of Religion can and should have on religious communities whilst maintaining critical questioning of the impact agenda? • How might work in philosophy open up thinking about research on lived religious practice? Strand Three: Engaging the Public in Research on Religion • Improving the visibility of academic debate on religion and its relationship to philosophy • Improving and enhancing the quality of public debate • Ensuring that policy makers are aware of the core issues at stake in e.g. discrimination debates. •

Bringing research to bear on religious discrimination cases and other zeitgeist-y public issues Paper Proposals: Please submit abstracts of 250 words for 20 minute papers that will locate themselves in one of these three streams by 28th February 2014. Panel Proposals: Proposals for complete panels will also be welcomed. Please send an abstract of no more than a side of A4 for a panel proposal 28th February 2014.

Registration Registration Per Person: £40.00 for one day, £80.00 for two days (including lunch and tea and coffee, but excluding breakfast and dinner). There is a discounted student fee available. DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION: March 28th 2014 For more registration details, please see