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Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public LifeDate:
April 23, 2008
The Sweet House
254 E. Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 United States
Phone: (616) 706-2029
Austin Dacey will be speaking on his new book Secular Conscience: How Nonbelief Belongs in Public Life
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.
Copies of the Secular Conscience will be available for purchase at the event. Austin Dacey will be available for a book signing following the event.
After the meeting, join us at Vitale’s Restaurant, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map
Child care is available
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.