The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy

The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy

In this important new work in political and constitutional theory, Michael Perry elaborates and defends an account of the political morality of liberal democracy: the moral convictions and commitments that in a liberal democracy should govern decisions about what laws to enact and what policies to pursue. The fundamental questions addressed in this book concern (1) the grounding, (2) the content, (3) the implications for one or another moral controversy, and (4) the judicial enforcement of the political morality of liberal democracy. The particular issues discussed include whether government may ban pre-viability abortion, whether government may refuse to extend the benefit of law to same-sex couples, and what role religion should play in the politics and law of a liberal democracy.


“Michael Perry is clearly one of our best and most prolific legal scholars, and The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy is one of his finest books. Not the least strength of this volume is the way Perry artfully performs what he commends to us. The thoughtful, challenging arguments Perry offers teach us in the doing how Perry would have us conduct our political arguments with one another.”
--Milner S. Ball, Harmon W. Caldwell Chair Emeritus in Constitutional Law, University of Georgia

"This book is the capstone of Professor Perry's long and fruitful engagement with the difficult question of how religion should inform lawmaking in a liberal democracy. As a political liberal who belongs to a culturally conservative religion, I have found Professor Perry's work both intellectually enlightening and personally meaningful. The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy is an excellent work that forces one out of reflexive responses to religion in politics."
--Frederick Mark Gedicks, Guy Anderson Chair & Professor of Law, Brigham Young University

The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy is a focused, original, and important contribution to the discussion of religion and liberal democracy. Perry focuses on two of the most controversial cases in current debate: abortion and same-sex unions; and he offers a theoretical account of liberal democracy that reframes the terms in which those debates should be conducted. The argument of the book is clear and compelling.
----Robin W. Lovin, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics, Southern Methodist University

“This is vintage Michael Perry. He addresses a big, fundamental, and timely issue: What are the moral convictions that should govern legislation and policy in a liberal democracy? He discusses the topic with verve, clarity, wide scope, and astounding learning; and both formulates general rules and analyzes specific cases. If you have been unsettled by attacks over the past several decades on our form of government, The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy is the book to read to quiet your doubts.”
--Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University

Michael Perry has written a powerful defense of liberal democracy and human rights—a defense grounded on religious faith. He finds secular defenses wanting. Both for religious supporters of liberal democracy and human rights and for secular supporters, Perry’s book is must reading. But the provocative chapters on such topics as religious freedom, abortion, same-sex unions, and the role of courts provide additional reasons to read this book.”
--Lawrence A. Alexander, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, University of San Diego

“Michael Perry is widely recognized for his major contributions to our understanding of law, morality, and religion, and especially of the grounding, content, implications, and judicial enforcement of constitutionally entrenched human rights. The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy should be of interest to every conscientious citizen.”
--Richard George Wright, Lawrence A. Jegen Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law -- Indianapolis

"The literature on religion and public discourse and policy is now very considerable, and overwhelming American. Most of it has been written by philosophers and theologians. Michael Perry, however, makes a distinctive contribution in writing as an expert in constitutional law. This is a clearly written, logically organized, accessible, original book on an important and topical issue."
--Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford

"Focuses on abortion and same-sex unions in a study of the political role of religion in liberal democracies..."
--The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy is an important and timely book, with much to offer those working in political philosophy and constitutional law. It brings together in a unified theory the many ideas of one of our most distinguished commentators on the proper role of religion in law and political life.
--Notre Dame Philosophical Review

"....extremely interesting and provocative....offers a thoughtful analysis that productively balances normative theorizing and concrete considerations and, in so doing, produces a very engaging and useful contribution to the existing scholarship."
--Shaun P. Young, York University, Philosophy in Review

"....wide-ranging and forceful...." -
William A. Galston, Brookings Institution, Commonweal

"...this new book from Michael J. Perry surely contributes to a rich and essential discussion on the interaction between religion and the law.... original, enlightening, challenging and persuasive.... Perry shows brilliantly in this book what many authors fail to point out: a very inclusive and hopeful reminder that proves wrong those who forget that (a) religion can be and often is a source of adherence to liberal democracies and (b) that all citizens, regardless of their (non)religious practices and beliefs, share much more in terms of political morality than what sporadically divides them." -
Benjamin Prud'homme, Quebec Journal of International Law

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