Fall 2018

Colloquium In Political Thought

, 4 pts, GR8101


Constitutionalism, Sovereignty and Religion. One of the greatest challenges to liberal, democratic and republican constitutionalism in the 21st century is posed by controversy over the relation between religion and the state. This course will explore alternative ways in which state and religion in constitutional democracies are and should be articulated. We will treat Federalism and Pluralism as alternative strategies for the management of the problem of difference, (particularly religious difference,) and for decentralizing the modern state. First, we will explore the common origins of both in feudal relationships, church self-government and the state of the estates. Second, we reconstruct the origins of the modern state and its doctrine of sovereignty, as answers to perceived threats in pluralist fragmentation, and imperial and papal trans-polity organization. Third, we will compare the new alternatives of centralized territorial state and decentralized federations.  Using Tocqueville we will present the American design combining federalism and pluralism. Fourth we will present some revivals, successful or attempted of federalism and pluralism in the contemporary world. Fifth, we will consider four case studies: Turkey (imperial pluralism and republican centralization); Israel (pluralism without federalism), India (centralized federalism and partial pluralism) and Canada (federalism and multi-culturalism).

Section Number
Call Number
Day, Time & Location
W 2:10pm-4:00pm To be announced
Jean L Cohen