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Democracy and Tradition
Jeffrey Stout

Winner of the 2004 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Constructive-Reflective Studies Category, American Academy of Religion

Paperback | 2005 | $45.00 | £37.95 | ISBN: 9780691123820
368 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400825868 |
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Do religious arguments have a public role in the post-9/11 world? Can we hold democracy together despite fractures over moral issues? Are there moral limits on the struggle against terror? Asking how the citizens of modern democracy can reason with one another, this book carves out a controversial position between those who view religious voices as an anathema to democracy and those who believe democratic society is a moral wasteland because such voices are not heard.

Drawing inspiration from Whitman, Dewey, and Ellison, Jeffrey Stout sketches the proper role of religious discourse in a democracy. He discusses the fate of virtue, the legacy of racism, the moral issues implicated in the war on terrorism, and the objectivity of ethical norms. Against those who see no place for religious reasoning in the democratic arena, Stout champions a space for religious voices. But against increasingly vocal antiliberal thinkers, he argues that modern democracy can provide a moral vision and has made possible such moral achievements as civil rights precisely because it allows a multitude of claims to be heard.

Stout's distinctive pragmatism reconfigures the disputed area where religious thought, political theory, and philosophy meet. Charting a path beyond the current impasse between secular liberalism and the new traditionalism, Democracy and Tradition asks whether we have the moral strength to continue as a democratic people as it invigorates us to retrieve our democratic virtues from very real threats to their practice.


"[Stout's] vision of democracy is compelling, simultaneously inspiring and comforting. Stout speaks to us as citizens, asks us to read him as citizens, and encourages us to reflect on what sorts of citizens our theologies invite us to be."--Lauren F. Winner, Books & Culture

"Stout invites us into a vigorous local democracy in which kids play soccer and a diverse and dedicated group of neighbors team up to protect their community from the encroachment of a large, bureaucratic medical center. . . . Though Stout is fully aware that the social reality is often more bleak, he confronts injustice with a passion born out of his awareness that something much better is not only possible but already exists. If his underlying optimism about American democracy is right, it's hard to refuse his invitation to religious people to participate in it."--Robin W. Lovin, The Christian Century

"Stout's book offers many sophisticated and well-argued insights on liberal political philosophy, Christian theology, and the relations between them. It combines historical analysis with illuminating observations regarding current affairs. Its project--to reconcile democracy and religion--is both theoretically fascinating and politically urgent."--Yaacov Ben-Shemesh, Social Theory and Practice

"Stout anchors his argument on the question of what role religious premises should play in the reasoning citizens use when they make and defend political positions. His provocative answer is that citizens of a democracy have the right to freedom of thought and expression that includes whatever religious motivations they might have."--Choice

"[A] book that is important by any reckoning. . . . [It] will significantly advance discussion of liberalism and democracy. . . . At its strongest, Stout's case refreshes with its view of democracy-not simply a 'notion' but a robust tradition that none should abandon."--Craig R. Hovey, Theology Today

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    File created: 7/11/2017

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