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Title: Corporate religious liberty and Christian ethics
Author: David, Edward
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 7003
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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In recent years, the United States Supreme Court has heard a number of highly contentious religious liberty cases from a variety of corporate litigants, including houses of worship, religious non-profits, and for-profit enterprises. Concerning the primary legal subjects involved, theorists are in disagreement concerning to whom or to what legal rights to religious freedom should apply: Some argue that individuals and voluntary associations are most appropriate; others argue that groups of any type, whether voluntary or not, are of equal concern. How should the Christian tradition respond to these contentions? Judging the first position as unjustifiably narrow and the second as unduly broad, this doctoral thesis draws upon Christian ethical and group-ontological thought to argue that corporate religious liberty rights should apply to neither individuals nor groups per se, but rather to the religious, group-agential actions of coordinating individuals. Such a position finds a reasonable middle ground. The thesis is divided into four substantive chapters. The introduction establishes the normative import of determining to whom or to what corporate religious liberty rights apply and emphasizes the pressing need for a Christian ethical account. Chapter 1 begins the development of this account by determining both the extent to which it already exists within Christian moral thought and the primary area in which it can be developed - namely, group ontology or the appropriate legal subjects concerned. After Chapter 2 anticipates objections to the use of group ontology in legal prescription, Chapter 3 constructs the promised Christian ethical account, using the modest group realism of Thomas Aquinas to prescribe protections (and limitations) of corporate religious exercise within church and non-church organizational contexts. Chapter 4 answers a remaining query concerning the integration of a Christian, strong group realism (applicable to the Church alone) into the proposed account. The conclusion summarizes the ontological work done and suggests areas for further normative development.
Supervisor: Biggar, Nigel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Freedom of religion ; American politics ; Political liberalism ; Jurisprudence ; Theology