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CFI | MI Southeast: The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life

April 24, 2008
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Rochester Hills Barnes & Noble Bookstore
2800 S. Rochester Rd.
Rochester, MI United States

Get Directions

Organized by:
Jennifer Beahan
Phone: 616-698-2342 x801
Email: jbeahan@centerforinquiry.org


Austin Dacey will be speaking on his new book Secular Conscience: How Nonbelief Belongs in Public Life

Austin will be available for a book signing beginning at 6:30pm. A presentation on his book will begin at 7:00pm with time for questions following the presentation.

The open, secular society is in retreat. From Washington to Rome to Tehran, religion is a public matter as never before, and secular values-personal autonomy, toleration, separation of religion and state, and freedom of conscience-are attacked on all sides and defended by few. The godly claim a monopoly on the language of morality in public debate, while secular liberals stand accused of standing for nothing.

Secular liberals have undone themselves. For generations, too many have insisted that questions of conscience-religion, ethics, and values-are “private matters” that have no place in public debate. Ironically, this ideology prevents them from subjecting religion to due scrutiny when it encroaches on individual rights and from unabashedly defending their own moral vision in politics for fear of “imposing” their beliefs on others.

Austin Dacey calls for a bold rethinking of the nature of conscience and its role in public life. Inspired by an earlier liberal tradition he traces to Spinoza and John Stuart Mill, Dacey urges liberals to lift their self-imposed gag order and argues for a secularism based on the objective moral value of questions of conscience.

He likens conscience to the press in an open society: it should be protected from coercion and control, not because it is private, but because of its vital role in the public sphere. Conscience is free, but not free from shared standards of truth and right.

Marshalling the latest research on belief, the mind, and ethics, The Secular Conscience delivers a compelling ideal for the future of the open, secular society.

About Austin Dacey, PhD

Representative to the United Nations, Center for Inquiry

Austin Dacey is a philosopher who writes on the intersection of science, religion, and ethics. He serves as a representative to the United Nations for the Center for Inquiry, a think tank concerned with the secular, scientific outlook. He is also on the editorial staff of Skeptical Inquirer and FreeInquiry magazines. His writings have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times. In 2002 Austin earned a doctorate in philosophy. Austin has authored two books: The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life (Prometheus Books, 2008) and The Case for Humanism: An Introduction (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). Austin lives in New York City.