GOVT-504 Law & Religion Seminar: Accomodating the Liberty of Conscience
Spring for 2017-2018
Should a health care professional be able to refuse to deliver services
or medicines they deem to be immoral, such as abortion or birth control
pills? Should laws permitting same-sex unions include accommodations for
businesses and government officials to be able to refuse to participate
in the union? Should parents who object to public school curricula on
grounds of faith be allowed to selectively withdraw their children from
particular classes or curricular assignments? What is the moral and
legal sources of such "rights of conscience"? In this seminar, we will
examine the theoretical arguments about conscience-based claims to
exemption from legal obligation in moral and political theory,
theological ethics, and legal theory, and we will study the works of
recent theorists concerning the wisdom and viability of conscience-based
exemptions in the law. We will also explore the historical and recent
landscape of legal cases and proposed legislative schemes involving
conscientious objector status, medical services (e.g., abortion,
sterilization, fertility, removal of life support), homeschooling and
same-sex marriage.

Students may not receive credit for both this seminar and Church-State
Law Seminar; or Religion and Law Seminar; or Religious Liberty on Trial:
Defining Rights, Defining Limits.
Credits: 2
Prerequisites: None
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