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Look Inside Taking Rites Seriously
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Taking Rites Seriously
Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith

$29.99 (P)

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  • Date Published: November 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107533059

$ 29.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Taking Rites Seriously is about how religious beliefs and religious believers are assessed by judges and legal scholars and are sometimes mischaracterized and misunderstood by those who are critical of the influence of religion in politics or in the formation of law. Covering three general topics – reason and motive, dignity and personhood, nature and sex – philosopher and legal theorist Francis J. Beckwith carefully addresses several contentious legal and cultural questions over which religious and non-religious citizens often disagree: the rationality of religious belief, religiously motivated legislation, human dignity in bioethics, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, reproductive rights and religious liberty, evolutionary theory, and the nature of marriage. In the process, he responds to some well-known critics of public faith – including Brian Leiter, Steven Pinker, Suzanna Sherry, Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, and Richard Dawkins – as well as to some religiously conservative critics of secularism such as the advocates for intelligent design

    • Reader will acquire a better understanding of the intellectual credentials of certain religious and moral beliefs
    • Explains how the prevailing narrative on religion, politics, and law does not adequately capture the real reasons for our cultural disagreements
    • Accessible to readers not formally trained in law, politics, philosophy or religion
    Read more


    • Winner, 2016 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Constructive-Reflective Studies, American Academy of Religion

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Beckwith’s legal perspective and clarity make this short survey of the role of religious reasoning in American jurisprudence a valuable contribution to the defense of religion’s place in public life."
    Elliot Milco, First Things

    "In Taking Rites Seriously, Francis Beckwith clears away many of the misunderstandings of religion that have marred discussions of faith and public life and corrupted the constitutional law of church and state. Of course, there are some academics and activists who are so deeply in the grip of secularist ideology that they have no desire to learn. Most Americans, however, whether they are believers or secularists, would like to be better informed about religion. For them, this book is a gift."
    Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

    "Sophisticated, learned, and committed, Francis Beckwith argues coolly for a reasoned faith even as he smites the Philistines hip and thigh on behalf of human life and dignity."
    Lenn E. Goodman, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Vanderbilt University

    '… graduate students, take note, it is also a major jump-start on about twenty-five doctoral dissertations. ‘Religious free exercise is part of the secular Constitution,’ says Beckwith, and that serves as a working summary of Beckwith’s main purpose in this important book.' Thomas R. Ascik, The Catholic World Report (

    'Covering three general topics - reason and motive, dignity and personhood, nature and sex - Beckwith addresses a variety of legal and cultural questions over which religious and nonreligious citizens often disagree, including religiously motivated legislation, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, reproductive rights and religious liberty, and the nature of marriage.' Law and Social Inquiry

    'We endorse Beckwith’s book because its goal is to encourage this kind of public reasoning about the ethico-religious matters that are hotly debated today across this society and within the field of religious studies.' Peter Ochs and Randi Rashkover, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107533059
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: faith seeking understanding
    Part I. Reason and Motive:
    2. Fides, ratio et juris: how some courts and some legal theorists misrepresent the rational status of religious beliefs
    3. Theological exclusionary rule: the judicial misuse of religious motives
    Part II. Dignity and Personhood:
    4. Dignity never been photographed: bioethics, policy, and Steven Pinker's materialism
    5. Personhood, prenatal life, and religious belief
    Part III. Nature and Sex:
    6. How to be an anti-intelligent design advocate: science, religion, and the problem of intelligent design
    7. Same-sex marriage and justificatory liberalism: religious liberty, comprehensive doctrines, and public life
    8. Conclusion: taking rites seriously.

  • Author

    Francis J. Beckwith, Baylor University, Texas
    Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Philosophy and Co-Director (with Trent Dougherty) of the Program in Philosophical Studies of Religion. He has held visiting faculty appointments at Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame and has published extensively on social ethics, applied ethics, legal philosophy, and the philosophy of religion. Named the 2007 Person of the Year by Inside the Vatican magazine, his most recent books include Politics for Christians: Statecraft As Soulcraft (2010) and Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case against Abortion Choice (2007).


    • Winner, 2016 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Constructive-Reflective Studies, American Academy of Religion

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