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07.07.2019 13:35 Alter: 16 days

Autonomy, Diversity, and the Common Good

Call for Applications

Theme: Autonomy, Diversity, and the Common Good
Type: 41st Annual Philosophy of Religion Conference
Institution: Clare­mont Graduate University
Location: Claremont, CA (USA)
Date: 6.–8.2.2020
Deadline: 31.8.2019

Each year the Claremont Annual Philosophy of Religion Conference
brings together thinkers from different religions, traditions, and
academic disciplines to discuss one particular theme in the fields of
Religion, Theology and Philosophy of Religion. The theme of the 41st
conference will be Autonomy, Diversity and the Common Good.

The conference will be held at Clare­mont Graduate University,
Claremont, California, on February 6-8, 2020.

Topic Description

We live in a time of growing social and cultural diversity and
inequality. This has increased the traditional tensions between
individual freedom and social responsibility to a point where the
binding forces of our societies seem to be exhausted. Where
previously the commonalities of nature, culture, and tradition that
connect us before we become an individual self were emphasized, we
have learned to deconstruct these commonalities and replace them with
our own cultural constructions without being disturbed by the
biological, cultural, moral or religious limitations of earlier
times. However, instead of creating a society of equals, for which
many have hoped, we have increased inequality, diversity, and
injustice in our societies to an unprecedented degree. In order to
create more just conditions for everybody, we pursue politics that
promote greater self-determination, cultural participation, and
political power for marginalized groups in order to help them assert
their distinctiveness and gain recognition in contexts of real or
perceived inequality or injustice. But we often do it without due
regard for the interests and potentials of society at large, or the
different needs of others, or the commonalities we must share for our
society to work. Like the sorcerer’s apprentice, we have inaugurated
a global process of social change but cannot control the forces that
drive us apart or prevent the weakening of the forces that bind us

The tensions between centripetal and centrifugal forces in society
can be observed everywhere, and they have been fueled by the global
spread of capitalism and consumerism. For some freedom, independence
and autonomy are the highest values in our society that must not be
compromised by any social commitments, legal restrictions or
political obligations. Others emphasize justice, equity, and equality
and insist that we must practice solidarity with those who need it
and assume responsibility even for that for which we are not
responsible. But why play off one against the other? Is it true that
insistence on autonomy and diversity weakens social cohesion, or that
striving for justice, equity and equality undermines individual
freedom? How much individuality and what kinds of diversity are we
ready to accept? Where do we want to draw a line, if we do, and for
which reasons? How much autonomy and diversity are possible without
destroying social cohesion and human solidarity? And how much social
commonality is necessary to be able to live an autonomous life and do
justice to diversity?

A long tradition has seen the common good as the social order in
which individuals and groups can best strive for perfection. Liberal
societies insist that this perfecting must not be done at the cost of
others or by restricting the right to such a striving only to some
and not granting it also to others. But what does ‘perfection‘ mean
today? And what has become of the common good in our time? There are
significant differences between conceptions of the common good in the
West and East and between secular and religious interpretations of
the human pursuit of happiness and fulfilled life. What are the
contributions to this debate by religious traditions? How do they
configure the ideas of autonomy, diversity, and the common good? Do
they have anything to offer that goes beyond secular conceptions? If
so, is what they offer compatible with secular views? Or must we
depart from the idea of the common good and seek alternatives that
would allow us to better hold together the diverging forces of
autonomy, individuality, and diversity on the one hand and the
binding forces of social justice, equality, solidarity, and
responsibility on the other?

These are some of the questions to be discussed at the 41st Annual
Philosophy of Religion Conference at Claremont.

Main Conference Participants:

- Richard Amesbury (Arizona State University)
- Clare Carlisle (King’s College London)
- Jörg Dierken (Halle)
- Nils Ole Oermann (Lüneburg/St. Gallen)
- Joseph Prabhu (Cal State LA)
- Michael Puett (Harvard)
- Francis Schüssler Fiorenza (Harvard)
- Linn Tonstad (Yale)
- Graham Ward (Oxford)
- Elliot Wolfson (UCSB)

Conference Grants

The Udo Keller Foundation Forum Humanum (Hamburg) has generously
provided 10 conference grants ($2200 each) to enable doctoral
students and new PHDs (not earlier than 2015) to participate in the
conference. The grant is meant to cover all expenses. Recipients will
have the opportunity to attend the conference on Friday and Saturday
and to present a paper (15 double-spaced pages) on the topic of the

To create space for the discussion of their contributions, a
pre-conference seminar will be held on Thursday, February 6, on the
same topic as the main conference. All grant recipients will be
expected to participate in this seminar and introduce not their own
but one of the other papers for discussion. Five papers will be
chosen for publication along with the conference contributions in the
Claremont Studies of Philosophy of Religion (Mohr Siebeck Tübingen).

We invite doctoral students and recent PhDs to submit a one-page CV
and a 5-page abstract of their proposed paper on the topic of
‘Autonomy, Diversity and the Common Good’ (word, double-spaced,
anonymous for blind review).

Applications should be sent by email to:

Ingolf U. Dalferth
Department of Religion
Claremont Graduate University
831 N. Dartmouth Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711

by August 31, 2019 (midnight Pacific time). Please also cc your
application to Applications will be blind
reviewed by an international committee of scholars. Recipients will
be notified in October. Drafts of the papers are due by January 15,

Download the Call for Papers:

Conference website: