The Social Law

in God's Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226134833
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226134857 | DOI:
The Social Law

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This chapter tries to “reframe” the debate on faith-based social policy in America, arguing that the confessional/philosophical genealogy of the faith-based initiative is becoming more relevant in the emerging debate on economic insecurity. It considers these confessional welfare models as an expression of pluralist thought, or what it calls social pluralism. Pluralist political theory, associated in different ways with thinkers such as Felicité de Lamennais, Otto von Gierke, Harold Laski, and J. N. Figgis, roughly coincided with the emergence of confessional challenges to welfare and liberal education, as well as with the earliest stages of the politics of Christian Democracy. This “social pluralism” built in part on the older legal traditions of “church autonomy” and “freedom of the church,” but should not be confused with the rationalistic “interest-group” pluralism that characterizes American political theory. Rather, social pluralism is essentially an idea of political order that depends on older ideas of the intrinsic sovereignty of natural social structures and morally integrated groups.

Keywords: social pluralism; social structures; social policy; faith-based initiative; America; Christian Democracy; welfare; liberal education; church autonomy; freedom of the church

Chapter.  23379 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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