Darwin, Dewey, Religion, and the Public Domain

John Finnis

in Religion and Public Reasons

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580095
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729416 | DOI:
Darwin, Dewey, Religion, and the Public Domain

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This chapter, composed as a Dewey lecture, argues that Darwin is a better guide for thinking about the place of religion in public life and in the Constitution than John Dewey, who denied that knowledge discloses reality and is all for the sake of controlling experience. Darwin acknowledged that there are reasons, not merely feelings or prior faith, for judging that the world is the product of an intelligent designer/creator. The arguments of Eisgruber and Sager that religious freedom deserves no specific constitutional protection misunderstand natural religion's significance and rational worth, for example as underpinning for the idea of human equality. Their arguments attributing disrespect, insult, or disparagement to religious exercises in schools are unsound. All philosophical arguments ought to be consistent with the worth of critically arguing for them, and that is a test failed by Hart and in different ways by Nietzsche, Posner, and many others. The European Court of Human Rights's judgment about Islamic Sharia provides important matter for reflection.

Keywords: Darwin; Dewey; intelligent design; Eisgruber and Sager; natural religion; religious freedom; disparagement and insult; Nietzsche; Posner; Hart

Chapter.  11862 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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