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Philosophy & Religion | McDowell Conference 2010

19th Annual McDowell Conference
Fall 2010 Program


Friday, October 22, 2010
Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center
1:00 pm to 6:00 pm



1:00 pm - 3:30 pm Session I:

Introduction: "Religion, Politics, and Modernity”
Jeffrey Reiman, William Fraser McDowell Professor of Philosophy, American University

“Why Religious Convictions Properly Figure in Political but Not Legal Choices”
RoKent Greenawalt, University Professor, Columbia University, Columbia Law School

“The Precarious Place of Religious Expression in American Public Life”
Daniel L. Driesbach, Professor, Justice, Law and Society, Amerian University

“Spiritual Governance”
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Professor of Law, Director of the Law, Religion, and Culture Program, University at Buffalo Law School, SUNY

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm REFRESHMENTS

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm SESSION II:

“New Threats to Religious Freedom in America and their Global Implications”
Allen D. Hertzke, Presidential Professor of Political Science, University of Oklahoma

“Secularization and the Decontamination of the Public Sphere”
Evan Berry, Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religion, American University

“Polluting the Sacred, Selling the Spiritual, and Modernizing the Traditional: Living Everyday Contradictions in Hinduism Abroad in the 2009 Washington Post”
Shubha Pathak, Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religion, American University



Evan Berry is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at American University and Co-Director of the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs master’s program. His research focuses on ideas of nature in modern western culture, particularly the religious roots of contemporary environmental discourse. Trained in both social scientific and theoretical methodologies, his current scholarship includes an ethnographic study of intentional communities in the Pacific Northwest, a critique of the philosophical assumptions of climate change ethics, and a book project on the role of religious language in the birth of the American environmental movement.

Daniel L. Dreisbach is Professor of Justice, Law and Society in the School of Public Affairs at American University. He received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia. He has authored or edited seven books, including Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State (New York University Press, 2002) and The Sacred Rights of Conscience (Liberty Fund, 2009)(co-editor). He has published numerous book chapters, reviews, and articles in scholarly journals, including American Journal of Legal History, Constitutional Commentary, Emory Law Journal, Journal of Church and State, North Carolina Law Review, and William and Mary Quarterly. Professor Dreisbach was the 2008 recipient of American University’s highest faculty award, “Scholar/Teacher of the Year.” 

Kent Greenawalt is University Professor at Columbia University, teaching at Columbia Law School. His main interests are in constitutional law and jurisprudence, with special emphasis on church and state. In the past decade he has concentrated on issues of religious freedom and disestablishment of religion. His books on those subjects include a two-volume treatment of the religion clauses: Religion and the Constitution, Vol. 1, Free Exercise and Fairness (2006), and Vol. 2, Establishment and Fairness (2008); and Does God Belong in Public Schools? (2005). Among his other writings are two books on the place of religious ideas in the politics of liberal democracies: Private Consciences and Public Reasons (1995) and Religious Convictions and Political Choice (1988). After law school, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Harlan, then spent part of a summer as an attorney with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in Jackson, Mississippi. He served as Deputy Solicitor General of the United States from 1971–72. Professor Greenawalt is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and a past president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy.

Allen D. Hertzke, an internationally recognized expert on religion and politics, is Presidential Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma. He is author of Representing God in Washington, an award-winning analysis of religious lobbies, which has been issued in a Chinese language translation; Echoes of Discontent, an account of church-rooted populist movements; and co-author of Religion and Politics in America, a comprehensive text now in its fourth edition. His latest book is titled Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights. A frequent news commentator, Hertzke has been featured in such outlets as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, London Times, Time Magazine, New Republic, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Weekly Standard, BBC World Service, PBS, and National Public Radio. He was a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and Visiting Scholar at the Brookings Institution. From 2008 to 2010 he served as lead consultant, first for the Pew Charitable Trusts and then the John Templeton Foundation, to develop strategic recommendations for advancing religious freedom around the globe. A winner of numerous teaching awards, Dr. Hertzke has lectured at the National Press Club, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and before numerous audiences in China.

Shubha Pathak is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at American University, where she teaches courses on Hinduism, comparative religion, and the philosophy of art. Currently, she is completing a book manuscript about the different kinds of role models that Greek and Sanskrit epic poems have offered to their audiences since ancient times; and she is editing a volume on applying metaphor and metonymy theories in comparative religious studies. In addition to presenting her research at national and international conferences, she has been interviewed on public radio about Hindu beliefs and practices. 

Jeffrey Reiman is the William Fraser McDowell Professor of Philosophy at American University. He is the author of In Defense of Political Philosophy (Harper & Row, 1972), Justice and Modern Moral Philosophy (Yale, 1990), Critical Moral Liberalism: Theory and Practice (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), The Death Penalty: For and Against (with Louis Pojman) (Rowman & Littlefield, 1998), Abortion and the Ways We Value Human Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice, 9th ed. (with Paul Leighton) (Allyn & Bacon, 2010), and more than a hundred articles in philosophy and criminal justice journals and anthologies.

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan is Professor of Law and Director of the Law, Religion, and Culture Program at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. She studies the intersection of religion and law in the modern period, particularly the phenomenology of modern religion as it is shaped in its encounter with law. She is the author of Paying the Words Extra: Religious Discourse in the Supreme Court of the United States (Cambridge: Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, 1994); The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton, 2005) and Prison Religion: Faith-based Reform and the Constitution (Princeton, 2009). During the 2010-2011 academic year, she will be a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.