Putting Truth In The Second Place: On Compromise, Religion and Politics

Discussions on religion and politics have intensified in recent years and most of them have been as controversial as difficult to resolve. Examples include the exposure of religious symbols in public spaces, tensions between various human rights and religion (such as Western promotion of religious freedom abroad), and historical and current compromises between political and religious actors (for instance public funding of religious communities). 

These discussions reflect the fact that the role of religion in the political sphere is one of the most fundamental sources of disagreement in political philosophy. As such it is hard to find a subject more suitable for a discussion of political compromise than the relationship between religion and politics. 

However, much writing on religion and politics departs from the premise that we may solve the apparent incompatibility by striking the right balance between certain principles of justice. In contrast, by assuming that disagreement in politics is inevitable, one would not be discussing how to reach consensus, but rather how compromise is or ought to be reached in politics.

Indeed, the modern notion of political compromise was to a large extent born from an awareness of irreducible and deep disagreement in democratic society between different ethical and religious worldviews and the correspondent need for engaging in negotiations in which no part would be able to maintain their preferred position (e.g. Morley 1886; Fumurescu 2013). 

It appears that compromise in a democratic context fosters political processes in which the negotiator will have to put her own truth in the second place. Accordingly, the art of reaching compromises is often concerned with reflections on who should be included in the decisions and which principles or rights are subject to negotiation. 

Whereas there has been increased attention towards political compromise in research literature in recent years (e.g. Margalit 2010; special issue on compromise in Government and Opposition 2012; Gutman and Thompson 2012; May 2012; Lepora and Goodin 2013; Robertson 2013; Weinstock 2013), this conference wishes to bring special attention to compromises reached in the struggle between religion and politics.

We hope that treating religion and politics not as a problem to be solved once and for all, but rather as ongoing negotiations between different actors and ideas will inspire fresh and productive ways to speak about very old and very topical political problems.

The conference programme can be found here along with abstracts and information on parallel sessions. 

We will be considering the possibility of inviting selected contributions from the conference to an edited volume or a theme issue of a journal.