Religion and the Shape of Liberalism

Over the last several weeks, I've been putting together an annotated bibliography on religion and liberalism for the Religion and Its Publics project at UVA. The bibliography attempts to get clear on exactly what liberalism means while also exploring what critics find objectionable about it. Ultimately, I offer a "bibliography with an agenda," as I put it in the introduction, because I defend a "chastened" or "thin" liberalism as the best political arrangement we can hope for under conditions of pluralism. I am disinclined to view liberalism as good in itself because those living in liberal societies may be forced to make grave moral compromises, but it is nevertheless the best system we can hope for since it prevents even worse moral calamities, like violations of conscience that call the worthwhileness of life into question (e.g., forced conversion). Here is the bibliography's table of contents:

(1) Liberalism Defined   (1a) The History of Libera…

Only Donald Trump could have a justified true belief that doesn’t count as knowledge

In case you are sick of invoking the generic characters “Smith” and “Jones” to explain the Gettier problem, the famous challenge to the idea that knowledge is justified true belief, Donald Trump provided an alternative illustration recently.

For millennia, knowledge was thought to be justified true belief. If you have good reasons for holding a belief (it is justified), and that belief is correct (or true), then that belief counts as knowledge. This intuitive and straightforward account of knowledge can be found as far back as Plato, and pretty much everyone agreed with it. Until Edmund Gettier, that is, and the publication of his article “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?

In this paper, whose infamy is only bolstered by the fact that it is a mere three pages long, Gettier gives two counterexamples to the “justified true belief” account of knowledge. I won’t get into the amusing details of the counterexamples (because the details I am about to give from Trump’s unwitting demonstra…

Trump and the Banality of Evil

A short article on Trump and moral culpability for The Square, the Religion and Its Publics blog.


It's my intention to have some thoughts soon.