Religion and Biopolitics

Conference on religious arguments on bio-political topics such as cloning and embryo research

© Stefan Klatt

Bio-political questions are nationally and internationally important and there is profound  moral-ethical disagreement about whether such technologies – as embryo research or cloning – should be allowed or forbidden. Among the social groups that strongly shape the character of these debates are many religious organizations and actors. But the  legitimacy and the functionality of such religious interventions into the secular state are both politically and theoretically controversial.

The controversy centers on the liberal thesis that public debates – in particular decision making processes – should be restricted to arguments and reasons which are in principle accessible, intelligible and agreeable to all citizens. And religious arguments and reasons do not fulfil these standards. Despite this theoretical debate there is a lack of empirical knowledge about the extent, nature and consequences of the use of religious arguments. Therefore, it is of specific interest in what ways religious traditions and actors formulate their bio-ethical positions and which kinds of reasons they give to validate their positions. Moreover: how do religious actors influence politics, for example in which ways and under what conditions do religious positions and arguments achieve influence in political decisions?

The Conference deliberations will focus on two themes: First, epistemological and philosophical questions on the role of religious actors and arguments in liberal democracies and second, empirical case studies of the political discussion processes on stem cell research, therapeutical and reproductive cloning as well as preimplantation genetic diagnosis. The event is organized by Political Scientists Prof. Dr. Ulrich Willems and Dr. Mirjam Weiberg-Salzmann from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” as well as by Philosopher Prof. Dr. Michael Quante from the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics and the Cluster of Excellence. (exc/ska)

„Religion and Biopolitics. The Role of Religious Arguments and Religious Actors in Liberal Democracies“

Schloss Münster
Schlossplatz 5
48149 Münster


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

10:00–10:15 Welcome / Introduction Ulrich Willems (Münster) / Michael Quante (Münster)
10:15–11:30 Keynote Speech  Robert Audi (Notre Dame)
11:45–13:00   Citizens in Robes: The role of religious reasons in politics    Cristina Lafont (Evanston)
14:15–15:30 Arguing for Authority? Religion in Democratic Public Life Maeve Cooke (Dublin)
16:00–17:15    Banning religion? Existential commitments and the variety of critique Michael Quante (Münster)
17:15–18:30    Questioning the Topos of 'Religion and Violence' in Liberal Political Theory Ulrike Spohn (Münster)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

10:00–11:15 Religious arguments in political pluralism Ulrich Willems (Münster)
11:45–13:00    Biotechnology and the Non-Religious uses of Religious Claims in the Public Sphere John Evans (San Diego)
14:15–15:30 Religion and Biopolitics: A comparison of the United States of America, Germany, Norway, Italy and Ireland Mirjam Weiberg-Salzmann (Münster)
16:00–17:15 Similar Problems, Different Solutions? Comparing Political Regulations and Public Arguments on Bioethics in Catholic Spain and Poland Anja Hennig (Frankfurt)
17:15–18:30 Biopolitics in Austria Matthias Beck (Vienna)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

10:00–11:15    “An Offer You Can’t Refuse”: The Political and Ethical Debate on Stem Cell Research, Cloning and PGD in Denmark Jacob Dahl Rendtorff (Roskilde)
11:45–13:00 Two sides of the same coin: the political and judicial mobilization by patients, researchers and religious groups in the field of biomedicine in Canada and the UK Audrey L'Espérance (Toronto)
14:15–15:30 Cloning and Medically Assisted Reproduction: the positions of the Orthodox Church of Greece Elisabeth Diamantopoulou (Louvain)