JAN. 30, 2001

CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu



Noted philosopher addresses Ashcroft controversy at CSUB


The brewing controversy over the confirmation of John Ashcroft as U.S. attorney general and President Bush's plan to direct federal funds to religious organizations will be addressed by a noted philosopher during a lecture Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. at California State University, Bakersfield.

Robert Audi, the Charles J. Mach Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, will explore "Liberal democracy and the place of religion in politics" in the Albertson Room adjacent to the Dore Theater on the CSUB campus.

Audi's newest book, "Religious Commitment and Secular Reason," addresses some of the issues Audi is expected to discuss during his lecture. The book, published in 2000, describes the foundations of a free democracy, develops a theory of church-state separation, and integrates secular moral ideals with commitments of religious citizens, according to a description by the publisher, Cambridge University Press.

"Just as there should be separation of church and state, there should be a balance between religious and secular arguments regarding law and public policy," Audi says.

CSUB philosophy professor Christopher Meyers, director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics at CSUB, which is sponsoring the lecture, said Audi's lecture is timely in light of the current debate over Ashcroft's nomination as attorney general. Ashcroft, a devout Pentecostal, has had a long career in public service, but questions have been raised over his ability to separate his private beliefs from his public duty.

Meyers also noted news reports of President Bush's move to direct federal money to "faith-based organizations." Constitutional experts say such a move will test the legal line separating church and state.

"I anticipate Dr. Audi will help shed some light on these issues, issues which will no doubt affect us for the next four years at least," Meyers said.

A number of scholars have praised Audi's newest work, including:

John Haldane, University of St. Andrews: "One of the most important questions for the new century is how to balance the demands of politics and religion. ... 'Religious Commitment and Secular Reason' is the best philosophical treatment to date. Any future discussion should take account of it."

Michael J. Perry, Wake Forest University: "Audi has been one of the most thoughtful, provocative voices addressing this issue. ... essential reading for all who would think clearly about religion in politics."

Charles Larmore, University of Chicago: "...a helpful introduction to the current philosophical debate about religious argument in a liberal democracy, at the same time ... a distinctive contribution to it."

Audi's other books include the "Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy," (as editor) now in its second edition; "The Structure of Justification," published in 1993; and "Moral Knowledge and Ethical Character," published in 1997.

For more information about Audi's lecture, please call 661/665-6303.