Good and Evil at Notre Dame

I’m delighted to be participating in the annual conference of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, which begins tomorrow and runs through Saturday. This year’s theme is “Through Every Human Heart” and focuses on ideas of good and evil.

I’m on a criminal law panel moderated by Rick Garnett and together with Cecelia Klingele, John Stinneford, and Meghan Ryan. My remarks will consider the fate of evil as a concept in scholarship about criminal law and punishment. If I have some time left over, I’ll talk about good too. My general thesis is that both of these ideas are basically irrelevant in academic discussion of criminal law (I wrote something about this years ago in an old blog post…time flies).

CFP: Religious Violence and Extremism at Bar-Ilan

Here’s a CFP notice from Professor Michael Helfand:

Faculty of Law Faculty of Law

JOURNAL OF LAW, RELIGION AND STATE

Call For Papers

The Journal of Law, Religion and State – International Conference

Religious Violence and Extremism

28-30 May 2018

In recent years, religious violence and extremism have become an increasingly present phenomenon on the public stage, not only growing in impact, but also spreading to many new parts of the world. In this conference, we seek to discuss these phenomena from a variety of legal perspectives, considering the role of law, religion and state both in facilitating violence and extremism and countering it as well.

Our intention is to explore the legal origins and consequences of these phenomena in a broad sense, assessing not only state law and religious law, but also the social conditions and goals that the law reflects or emerges in response to. Moreover, we also hope to consider the concept of religious extremism not simply as attendant to violence, but also as its own independent phenomenon with which the state must contend. Here some of the topics we invite participants to address:

 Analysis of religious violence and extremism (the phenomena in general and specific incidents as well)

 Definition and classification of both religious violence and religious extremism

 What is the relationship between religious freedom and religious extremism?

 Does religious extremism justify restrictions on religious freedom (education, expression or association) and how does/should the state conceptualize principled limitations on religious freedom in light of religious extremism?

 How should we distinguish between a deeply religious lifestyle and extremist religious activity?

 What are the (legal) measures states should take against radicalization of religion, and in what cases? (e.g., avoiding support, cancellation of tax exemptions, banning/criminalizing certain activities)

 How can the state manage conflicts—and provide political resolutions—at holy sites that serve, at times, as loci for both religious fervour and religious extremism?

 Can law, the state and/or religious leaders and institutions leverage the resources within various faith traditions to respond to religious extremism and violence? If yes, then: how should this be done?

 Should the law and the state treat religiously-motivated crimes in a different way than other crimes?

 What are the interpretive strategies religions take (or should take) in order to void radicalization and how can they impact the legal and political strategies of the state?

The conference will be held at Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel, from the late afternoon of Monday, 28 May 2018 until the late afternoon of Wednesday, 30 May 2018.

We encourage academic scholars from all parts of the world and from diverse religious backgrounds to submit proposals on the topics outlined above, and similar topics as well.

An abstract of 500 (max.) words should be sent to jlrs@biu.ac.il no later than November 10, 2017. Please indicate academic affiliation and attach a CV. The conference committee will review all submissions and notify applicants of papers of its decisions by Friday, 15 December 2017. The participants will be required to submit a first (full) draft of their papers at least four weeks before the conference so as to enable all participants to prepare for the conference discussions.

All participants will be provided three days of hotel accommodation and board during the conference.

After the conference, participants will have the opportunity to revise and finalize their papers in order to submit them for publication in JLRS. The articles will be published in the Journal of Law Religion and State subject to blind peer review.

The organizing committee:

Prof. Zvi Zohar, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Prof. Rex Tauati Ahdar, Faculty of Law, Otago University, New Zealand

Dr. Haim Shapira, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Prof. Michael Helfand, Faculty of Law, Pepperdine University, USA

Duquesne Law School Symposium on Truth, Law, and Public Discourse

Here is a conference that may be of interest to some readers:

Duquesne University School of Law is hosting a Symposium prompted by the current state of American public life entitled, “Shall These Bones Live?: Resurrecting Truth in American Law and Public Discourse” on November 16-17, 2017. The Symposium co-convenors are Bruce Ledewitz, Duquesne Law School, and Heidi Li Feldman, Georgetown University Law Center. The Symposium keynote will be given by Louise Antony, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Other speakers are Justin Dyer, director of the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri, Lawrence M. Solan, Brooklyn Law School, Alina Ng, Mississippi College School of Law, and Brad Wendel, Cornell Law School. A short description follows.

From fake news to alternative facts, the American people have lost faith that institutions and leaders tell the truth and have even lost faith in what truth is.  Inconsistent narratives circulate among opposing groups that have little to do with each other, leading to mutual incomprehension, condescension and, sometimes, hatred.  This Symposium will consider the idea of truth, within law and without, and the depth of the current crisis of truth in American public life. The speakers will consider how realism can be reintroduced into law practice, law school teaching and political debate.

The Symposium is available for three CLE ethics credits for those attending and will be livestreamed. Papers will be published in the Duquesne Law Review. More information is available at www.duq.edu/law/resurrectingtruthcle.

Writeup of Last Week’s Event in Trent

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Last week’s gathering at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler in Trent, Italy

 

The Fondazione Bruno Kessler has posted this report of our conference on tradition and traditionalism in American and Russian thought. The conference, at the Fondazione’s headquarters in Trent, Italy, was a very worthwhile event. The discussions revealed significant differences, and some similarities, in how American and Russian scholars perceive tradition and tradition’s proper role in law and politics.

For me, the most interesting discussions were those that revealed the differences among us. From the American side, some of us were concerned with carving out space for traditional communities in the larger society; others were more interested in placing tradition at the center of legal debate. Some argued that tradition is already more central to that debate than it sometimes seems.

On the Russian side, some participants took the Russian Church’s recent advocacy of traditional values as a serious critique of liberalism, one that resonates with consistent themes in Orthodox thought. Others, by contrast, argued that “traditional values” are a recent, post-Soviet construct, even a pretext.

The Postsecular Conflicts Project will publish an online collection of participants’ essays later this year. Meanwhile, let me say thanks again, on behalf of the Center, to Kristina Stoeckl, Pasquale Annicchino, Marco Ventura, and their very capable staffs, for being such good hosts. Let’s do it again soon!

Center Co-Sponsoring Conference on Tradition in America and Russia Next Week in Trent

tradition_banner_1_navyNext week, Marc and I will travel to the Italian city of Trent for an important conference, “Tradition and Traditionalisms Compared,” at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler. The conference, which our Center’s Tradition Project is co-sponsoring with the Postsecular Conflicts Project at the University of Innsbruck, will gather scholars and commentators from the US and Europe to consider the competing understandings of tradition in American and Russian law and politics. It’s a great lineup of participants, and with all that’s going on in the world today, a very timely topic.

From the Tradition Project, aside from Marc and me, the participants include Patrick Deneen (Notre Dame), Rod Dreher (The American Conservative), Michael Moreland (Villanova), and Adrian Vermeule (Harvard). The other participants are listed in the conference program, which you can find here. From the papers people have submitted, it looks like we will have a candid and productive discussion on deep issues–exactly what one hopes for in a scholarly community.

We’ll have a report on the conference after the event. Meanwhile, let me say that we’ve been delighted to plan this program with Kristina Stoeckl (Innsbruck) and Pasquale Annicchino (EUI), and that we look forward to seeing everyone in Trento next week!

Call for Panels: Comparative Law, Faith & Religion

The American Society of Comparative Law has announced that the theme of this year’s meeting in Washington in October will be “Comparative Law, Faith & Religion: The Role of Faith in Law.” The Society has issued a call for panels with a deadline of June 1:

Examples of diverse topics that such a conference could address are: (1) historical or modern day attitudes that result in having faith in a legal tradition or developing religious attitudes towards secular texts such as the U.S. constitution; (2) a comparison of secular faith with religious faith in a legal system, perhaps looking at the history and development of western democracies; (3) the role of Christianity in development of common and/or civil law traditions; (4) comparative approaches to legal ethics and the influence of religion on development and implementation of
ethical rules for lawyers and judges; (5) Islamic visions of dispute settlement and the role of Islamic law in modern day commercial arbitration; (6) the role of Catholicism in development of family law in Latin America; (7) Laws of the nation’s secular authority as faithless law; (8) the continuing influence of Hindu “law”; (9) whether there is such a thing as Buddhist law?; (10) the influence of the Talmud on modern western legal systems or (11) the challenge of teaching about religion in a law school setting; etc. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged.

Further details are here.

Panel: “And Justice for All?” (New York, May 16)

On May 16 in New York, the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture will host a panel, “And Justice for All? The Promise of Religious Liberty in a Pluralistic World.” Here are the details from the Fordham events page:

At a time when human rights and human lives are at risk in America and abroad, how can we reconcile conflicting views of how religious beliefs relate to public policy? Is religious freedom a veil for bigotry or an essential protection against sectarian persecution?

Join us as we explore the contentious issue of religious liberty and its intersection with immigration, health care, same-sex marriage, and other issues.

Panelists
Vincent D. Rougeau
Dean, Boston College Law School

Thomas Berg
Professor of Law, St. Thomas University

Carol Keehan
CEO, Catholic Health Association

Asma Uddin
Director of Strategy, Center for Islam and Religious Freedom

Ani Sarkissian
Political Scientist; Author of The Varieties of Religious Repression: Why Governments Restrict Religion

This event is free and open to the public. For further details, click here.

Call for Papers: Religion and Politics in Early America

The Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis is hosting a conference entitled “Religion and Politics in Early America.” The conference will take place on March 1-4, 2018. The organizers of the conference are seeking proposals for both panels and individual papers. Proposals are due by Friday, May 26, 2017. Those interested in organizing a panel or submitting a paper can find more information here. The Danforth Center’s description of the conference follows:

Danforth Center.pngThis conference will explore the intersections between religion and politics in early America from pre-contact through the early republic. All topics related to the way religion shapes politics or politics shapes religion—how the two conflict, collaborate, or otherwise configure each other—will be welcomed. We define the terms “religion” and “politics” broadly, including (for example) studies of secularity and doubt. This conference will have a broad temporal, geographic, and topical expanse. We intend to create a space for interdisciplinary conversation, though this does not mean that all panels will need be composed of multiple disciplines; we welcome both mixed panels and panels composed entirely of scholars from a single discipline.

Lecture: “An (Un)Orthodox View: Religions and Politics in Russia Today” (Apr. 19)

On April 19, the King’s College McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, the King’s Public Policy and Research Institute, and the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council are co-sponsoring a lecture titled “An (Un)Orthodox View: Religions and Politics in Russia Today” given by Catherine Cosman (retired senior policy analyst for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) at the William G. McGowan School of Business. A brief description of the event follows:

King's CollegeCatherine Cosman, recently retired senior policy analyst for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, will discuss religious liberty in Russian and its impact on foreign policy at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the Burke Auditorium at King’s College.

The free public lecture, titled “An (Un)Orthodox View: Religions and Politics in Russia Today,” is co-sponsored by the KING’S McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, the King’s Public Policy and Research Institute, and the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council.

After 70 years of official Soviet atheism, Russia is now home to a great variety of religions. While the Russian Constitution says that the country is a secular state, the religion law preface claims four religions as “traditional”: Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. The Russian government, particularly the Kremlin, relies almost solely on the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (MPROC) as its official religious bulwark. Cosman’s talk will examine some of the reasons for the Kremlin’s focus on the Moscow Patriarchate and how this focus both affects other religious communities and plays out in Russian international politics.

Cosman joined the staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2003. Her areas of responsibility include the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Organization on Security and Cooperation (OSCE). She previously served on the staff of the U.S. Helsinki Commission as senior analyst on Soviet dissent.

She also worked with emerging independent labor unions for the Free Trade Union Institute, especially in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. In Estonia, she was the Senior Expert of the OSCE Mission, focusing on the integration of the Russian minority. She managed the Central Asian and Caucasus grants program at the National Endowment for Democracy and edited “Media Matters” and “(Un)Civil Societies.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College, Cosman earned a master’s degree and an ABD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Brown University. She also studied at the Free University of Berlin and the All-Union Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.

The Burke Auditorium is located in the William G. McGowan School of Business on North River Street. Parking will be available in on-campus lots. For more information, please contact Dr. Bernard Prusak, director, McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, at (570) 208-5900, ext. 5689.

More information on the lecture can be found here.

Conference: “U.S.-Egyptian Relations in the Age of ISIS”

On Monday, April 3, the Hudson Institute will host a conference entitled “U.S.-Egyptian Relations in the Age of ISIS.” Among the speakers will be Nina Shea (Center for Religious Freedom), Alberto Fernandez (Middle East Media Research Institute), and Samuel Tadros (Center for Religious Freedom). The conference will take place at the Institute’s Stern Policy Center in Washington, D.C. from 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM. The Institute’s description of the event follows; more information can be found here.

HudsonEgyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi’s visit to Washington in early April presents an opportunity to renew the American-Egyptian alliance. Over the past three and half years, a wide gulf in policy approaches has led to disagreements on a range of issues, from democracy and human rights, to Islamist extremism and the Libyan Civil War. Will the diplomatic visit mark a new chapter in U.S.-Egyptian relations?

President Sisi’s visit comes at a critical moment for his country. In the Sinai, the Islamic State’s local affiliate is inflicting daily casualties on security forces. Its genocidal campaign against Egyptian Copts has led to a mass flight of Copts from north Sinai. This followed the bombing of the St. Mark Cathedral compound in Cairo that left 29 people dead.

As the new Trump administration refines its strategy towards the Arabic world’s most populous country, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom will host a discussion on the security, political, and religious freedom challenges facing Egypt. On April 3, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute, will join Hudson Senior Fellows Nina Shea and Samuel Tadros to assess the situation in Egypt and discuss effective U.S. policy options toward the country.

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