12013 Religion and State: Philosophical Aspects 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Democracy Studies / Communication and Culture

Prerequisites: Democracy: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Israeli Democracy: Selected Issues, Contemporary Democratic Theories; one of the following: Democracy and Democratization, Selected Problems in the History of Western Democracies, Liberalism: Texts, Contexts, Critiques, Education Policy: Education for Democracy in Democratic Societies, and exemption from bibliographic assignments on computer searches in the “Alef” catalog and databases.

Recommended: Liberalism: Texts, Contexts, Critiques

The course is based on a reader edited by Elazar Weinryb.

The course provides an understanding of contemporary political thought in order to shed light on the problematic relations between religion and state which constitute one of the pressing problems on Israel’s public agenda. It also enhances the student’s ability to read contemporary philosophic material.

Topics: Characterization of religion; Various types of pluralism; The equal opportunity principle, the problem of compensation for arbitrary inferiority and the role of religion in considerations of justice; The hypothetical contract – Rawls and Scanlon; Rawls’ argument in favor of freedom of religion and liberty of conscience; The state’s neutrality and the separation of religion and state; The concept of “public reason”; Communitarian critics of Rawls; Perfectionism according to Aristotle and Maimonides; The ideal of personal autonomy (according to Kant, Mill and Raz); Raz’s Perfectionist Liberalism; The concepts of “tolerance” and “human dignity”; Autonomy, tolerance, human dignity and religion; The multicultural perspective and its implications for the rights of religious minorities.

1Students who took Religion and State: Philosophical Aspects (10555) as part of their undergraduate studies may not take this course.

Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.