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White to participate in USD Law conference

April 16, 2010

Professor Michael White will discuss his paper, "The First Amendment's Religion Clauses: 'Freedom of Conscience' versus Institutional Accommodation," at a conference April 23-24, at the University of San Diego School of Law.

White, also a Professor of Philosophy at ASU, will participate in the Conference on Freedom of Conscience: Stranger in a Secular Land, sponsored by the School's Institute for Law and Philosophy.

According to the conference Web site, although "freedom of conscience" has been one of the long-standing and central commitments of liberal constitutionalism, the commitment arose in a world in which religious assumptions figured prominently in the framework or worldview within which political issues involving religion and conscience were understood and debated. "Conscience" was commonly understood to be a religious faculty and "freedom of conscience" was presented and understood in religious terms.

Today, by contrast, such matters are typically considered within a more secular framework. Changes in frameworks and conceptions raise questions, such as, What is "conscience"? Does the term have any useful content today? Can "freedom of conscience" (whatever it is) be adequately justified on secular assumptions? Several scholars recently have doubted that it can be. The conference will consider the meaning, importance, and viability of the venerable commitment to "freedom of conscience."

To read White's paper, click here.

White's work lies principally in the areas of history of philosophy, science, and mathematics, especially during Greek and Roman antiquity, of formal logic, and of political philosophy and related areas of moral theory and jurisprudence. His recent interests include the history and theory of natural law and the interaction of this tradition with theology and with other jurisprudential traditions such as legal positivism. White is also working on the role of mathematics in the thought of Plato, for a forthcoming Blackwell 'companion' volume, and the history and conceptual foundations of nonstandard (non-Archimedean) analysis and set theory. He teaches the course, Great Traditions in Jurisprudence, and seminars on the natural law tradition, legal positivism, and other topics in jurisprudence.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law