Comparative Constitutional Law, Democracy, Law and Religion, Religion and Politics, Whither Europe?

Chapter on ‘Western “Civic Totalism,” Sovereignty of the People, and the Need for Limited Government’ in ICLARS-volume


The description of the volume on Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference, edited by W. Cole Durham Jr. and Donlu Thayer, reads as follows:

‘We live in an increasingly pluralized world. This sociological reality has become the irreversible destiny of humankind. Even once religiously homogeneous societies are becoming increasingly diverse. Religious freedom is modernity’s most profound if sometimes forgotten answer to the resulting social pressures, but the tide of pluralization threatens to overwhelm that freedom’s stabilizing force.

Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference is aimed at exploring differing ways of grappling with the resulting tensions, and then asking, will the tensions ultimately yield poisonous polarization that erodes all hope of meaningful community? Or can the tradition and the institutions protecting freedom of religion or belief be developed and applied in ways that (still) foster productive interactions, stability, and peace?

This volume brings together vital and thoughtful contributions treating aspects of these mounting worldwide tensions concerning the relationship between religious diversity and social harmony. The first section explores controversies surrounding religious pluralism from different starting points, including religious, political, and legal standpoints. The second section examines different geographical perspectives on pluralism. Experts from North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East address these issues and suggest not only how social institutions can reduce tensions, but also how religious pluralism itself can bolster needed civil society.’

My chapter, of which you find the final draft here, is titled: ‘Western “Civic Totalism,” Sovereignty of the People, and the Need for Limited Government.’

The abstract reads as follows:

In a fascinating, comparative philosophical article, Sungmoon Kim attempts ‘to revamp Confucian democracy, which is originally presented as the communitarian corrective and cultural alternative to liberal democracy, into a robust democratic political theory and practice that is plausible in the societal context of pluralism’. The same source of inspiration that Kim uses to reconstruct Confucian democracy – William Galston’s notion of liberal pluralism – can be used to critically appraise the current state of Western liberal democracy, to consider, more specifically, the extent to which Western liberal democracy still manages to realize the principle of expressive liberty, defined by Galston as ‘the absence of constraints, imposed by some individuals on others, that make it impossible (or significantly more difficult) for the affected individuals to live their lives in ways that express their deepest beliefs about what gives meaning or value to life’.

The volume appears in the ICLARS Series on Law and Religion. This series ‘is designed to provide a forum for the rapidly expanding field of research in law and religion. The series is published in association with the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, an international network of scholars and experts of law and religion founded in 2007 with the aim of providing a place where information, data and opinions can easily be exchanged among members and made available to the broader scientific community ( The series aims to become a primary source for students and scholars while presenting authors with a valuable means to reach a wide and growing readership.’

For more information on the volume, and how to order it, see:


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