The Secular Contract seeks to defend the European Enlightenment's secularization of political philosophy by promoting an understanding of Enlightenment secular liberalism and extending it to contemporary issues.The work proposes that the Enlightenment united the secularizing trends that occurred at the time across all areas of knowledge into a "secular contract" for modern politics. It argues that this was a normatively valuable enterprise whose aims and arguments need to be recovered today, especially in light of the challenges faced by the West, including fundamentalist Christianity in the US and radical Islam in Europe.Looking at the works of many thinkers, such as Hobbes, Jefferson, Madison, Rousseau, the book then shifts to the present day to argue for a different liberalism, as suggested by such contemporary thinkers as William Galston or Stephen Macedo. An engaging read, The Secular Contract will appeal to anyone interested in political theory and the history of ideas.
Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 349 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
"With grace and considerable erudition, Alex Schulman has reconstructed what was the most significant political concept of the Enlightenment: that social and political life could only be grounded upon an agreement between all citizens, which excluded any consideration of religious belief not matter what the basis of its claims. The great democratic revolutions which we today associate with modernity were inexorably based on the unassailable claim that the social contract could only ever be a secular one. In recent years this principle has come under attack not only from theocratic states hostile to the western liberal democracies but, even from within some of those democracies themselves, most alarmingly the United States. In a world which has witnessed some of the most devastating instances of sectarian violence since the sixteenth century, The Secular Contract, is a powerfully-argued, passionately-written account of where our true heritage lies, and a reminder that we abandon it at our peril." - Anthony Pagden, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, UCLA and author of Worlds at War. The 2500-Year Struggle between East and West.
The Secular Contract is the perfect companion text for survey courses in political theory and intellectual history Schulman makes use of both his razor-sharp wit and his encyclopedic knowledge of contractarianism to give us a daring yet authoritative reading of the history of liberalism. Arguing for the contemporary relevance of a secularism worthy of the name, the book restores social contract theory's original audacity. --Elisabeth Ellis, Associate Professor of Political Science, Texas A&M University