Akeel Bilgrami’s paper is very rich; I cannot speak to all its arguments. I focus on his principal concern: his desire to amend Charles Taylor’s definition of secularism so that the rights to free exercise of religion and evenhanded treatment are qualified by “the ideals that a polity seeks to achieve (ideals, often, though not always, enshrined in stated fundamental rights and other constitutional commitments).” When religions are inconsistent with these ideals, “there is a lexical ordering in which the political ideals are placed first.” These ideals can, apparently, be anything, as long as they “do not get articulated in terms that mention religion or the opposition to religion.” What is important is that they exist and that they come first.Read the rest of Secularism, lexical ordering, and resistance to dialogue.
Jeremy Webber holds the Canada Research Chair in Law and Society at the University of Victoria and was named a Trudeau Fellow in 2009. He is also Director of the Consortium on Democratic Constitutionalism (Demcon). He taught in the Faculty of Law at McGill University from 1987 to 1998, was Dean of Law at the University of Sydney (Australia) from 1998 to 2002, and moved to Victoria to take up the Canada Research Chair in 2002. Professor Webber has published widely in the fields of legal and political theory, comparative constitutional law, and indigenous rights (in both the Canadian and Australian contexts), including Reimagining Canada: Language, Culture, Community, and the Canadian Constitution (McGill-Queen’s University Press 1994).