Institute for Law & Philosophy: Freedom of Conscience Conference

This event occurred in the past

Institute for Law & Philosophy: Freedom of Conscience Conference

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

Friday, April 23, 2010 — Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.


Warren Hall, Faculty Reading Room

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




Overview | Schedule | Reservations


Conference Overview

Although "freedom of conscience" has been one of the long-standing and central commitments of liberal constitutionalism, the commitment arose in a world in which religious assumptions figured prominently in the framework or worldview within which political issues involving religion and conscience were understood and debated. "Conscience" was commonly conceived to be a religious faculty, and "freedom of conscience" was understood in religious terms. Today, by contrast, such matters are typically considered within a more secular framework. Marie Failinger suggests that freedom of conscience "began as an argument that government must ensure a free response by the individual called distinctively by the Divine within" but by now "has come to mean very little beyond the notion of personal existential decision-making."

This change in frameworks and conceptions raises questions. What is "conscience?" Does the term have any useful content today? Can "freedom of conscience" (whatever it is) be adequately justified on secular assumptions? Several scholars recently have doubted that it can be. Is Noah Feldman correct that the once central constitutional commitment to freedom of conscience has to a significant degree been replaced by a commitment to equality? And if so, is this development to be applauded or regretted? Is freedom of conscience a commitment whose time has passed?

Such questions will be the subject of this conference, which will consider the meaning, importance, and viability of the venerable (or anachronistic?) commitment to "freedom of conscience."


Conference Schedule

Friday, April 23, 2010

8:30–9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:00–10:30 a.m. First Paper Discussion (Nomi Stolzenberg, USC, Philosophy)
10:30–10:45 a.m. Break
10:45–12:15 a.m. Three Versions of the Politics of Conscience (Ronald Beiner, University of Torronto, Political Science)
12:15 p.m. Lunch Break
5:00–6:00 p.m. Foundations of Religious Liberty: Toleration or Respect (Brian Leiter, University of Chicago Law School)
6:00–7:00 p.m. No Respect: Brian Leiter on Religion (Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern Law School)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

8:30–9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:00–10:30 a.m. The First Amendment’s Religion Clauses: ‘Freedom of Conscience’ versus Institutional Accommodation (Michael White, Arizona State University, Philosophy)
10:30–10:45 a.m. Break
10:45–12:15 a.m. The Right to Freedom of Conscience (Michael Perry, Emory Law School)
12:15 p.m. Lunch Break
5:00–6:30 p.m. The Significance of Conscience (Kent Greenawalt, Columbia Law School)


Conference Reservations

The conference is open to faculty, staff, students and the general public. E-mail Leilani Sharrett to reserve your seat or call (619) 260-4208.



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5998 Alcalá Park
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