PODCAST | Civil Religion, Constitutionalism, and Eternity

This is part of the Democracy Futures Seminar Series, 20 April 2016

During the last few decades, the liberal democracies that tried to make religion a private matter have encountered great difficulties in the face of growing fundamentalism. In this seminar Professor Miguel Vatter aims to recover an alternative approach to the problem of religion in politics. He draws on the republican political tradition, where the legitimacy of the state in a constitutional government depends on a special public use of religion, or “civil religion”. Professor Vatter argues that the republican idea of “civil religion” is only understandable in the context of constitutionalism – i.e. that it is opposed to “political theology” to the extent that the latter is fundamentally tied to monarchism. In this seminar he will discuss this idea of a public “religion without God” (Dworkin) and illustrate its relevance in contemporary debates about the role of religion in democracy and the pursuit of happiness in a naturalistically conceived world.

Miguel vatter headshotABOUT THE SPEAKER

Miguel Vatter is Professor of Political Science at UNSW. His current areas of research and publication are Machiavelli, Kant, republicanism, biopolitics, and political theology. He is the author most recently of Machiavelli’s The Prince. A Reader’s Guide(2013), The Republic of the Living: Biopolitics and the Critique of Civil Society (2014), and has edited most recently The Government of Life: Foucault, Biopolitics, and Neoliberalism (2014) with Vanessa Lemm; and Crediting God. Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism (2010). He is co-founder and director of an international biopolitics research network, www.biopolitica.org, dedicated to the study of biopolitics from interdisciplinary perspectives.

Q and A Highlights