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The common good in a plural society: Muslims, Christians and the Public Arena in Britain

Herbert, David E.J. (1996) The common good in a plural society: Muslims, Christians and the Public Arena in Britain. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis develops an idea of how the common good might be pursued in a plural society, beginning from Jonathan Sacks' vision of such a society as a'community of communities'. It does so principally by developing Alasdair Maclnytre's concept of 'tradition'. Chapter 1 begins by assembling conceptual tools for the task, drawing on the work of scholars from a variety of disciplines. These include understandings of morality, plurality, community relations, the common good, the public arena, and modernity. Chapter 2 begins to refine these tools through a case study of The Satanic Verses controversy. The analysis is achieved principally by viewing the controversy in terms of a conflict between two communities of interpretation, a'literary community' and 'the British Muslim community'. While it is recognised that these constructs are over-simplistic, it is argued that the conflict can most fairly be viewed by seeing participants in the controversy as members of communities of interpretation, each with their own history, practices and identities at stake. In the course of the chapter, the 'literary community' is identified as broadly 'liberal' in outlook. Liberalism is then the topic of Chapter 3, in particular recent theoretical formulations of liberalism in the work of Rawls, Kymlicka and Galston, and their application of liberal theory to minority cultures in plural secularised societies. Chapter 4 provides an account of the failure of such liberal approaches according to Maclntyre, developing his concept of tradition as an alternative way to safeguard the integrity of individuals and communities, and to pursue the common good in a plural society. Chapters 5 and 6 seek to understand aspects of British Muslim and Christian communities respectively in the light of this analysis, in particular their inter-relationship with British society, and their contribution to the common good. Chapter 7 then problematises and refines the concept of tradition through an examination of the work of John Milbank, suggesting an understanding of tradition which combines teleological orientation, emphasis on concrete cultural practices and recognition of difference. Finally, Chapter 8 applies this refined concept of tradition to two contested fields; the international debate on Islam and human rights, and multicultural, citizenship and religious education in schools in England and Wales.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2010 15:31
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 10:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/513

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