November 11, 2019

Charles Taylor and Michael Walzer to engage at Catholic University

Leaders in the field of political theory and moral philosophy will meet at Catholic University to discuss “On the Meaningfulness of Democracy” on Friday, Nov. 15, at 9:30 a.m. in Caldwell Auditorium. 

Two of the world’s most eminent philosophers and public intellectuals — Charles Taylor, a Templeton Prize winner and professor emeritus of McGill University in Montreal, and Michael Walzer, professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton — will reflect on foundational questions concerning democracy including: 

  • How are democratic politics related to the human search for a meaningful life?
  • How can philosophical and religious traditions aid (or harm) a culture of democracy?
  • How do language and the politics of interpretation shape democratic life?
  • Which intellectual resources might help renew democratic institutions today? 

Taylor visited Catholic University in 2009, kicking off a research study examining the relationship between faith and culture. William Barbieri, professor of ethics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies, headed a group that addressed the topic’s social and political dimensions. Researchers relied heavily on the insights of Taylor’s A Secular Age. The week before he visits CatholicU, Taylor will visit the Vatican Apostolic Palace to receive the Ratzinger Prize from Pope Francis. 

“Charles Taylor, one of the most decorated philosophers living today, has been a close collaborator with the McLean Center over the past decade,” says William Barbieri, chairman of the center. “His seminal work on secularization and the Catholic Church's encounter with modernity has deeply informed the research initiatives sponsored by the McLean Center, including the present program on the meaningfulness of life. We are delighted to have the opportunity to host a conversation bringing him together with Michael Walzer, a world-renowned thinker on democracy, the ethics of war, and the Jewish political tradition.”

Walzer, whose Just and Unjust Wars is widely acknowledged as the most influential book on the ethics of war of the 20th century, has made major contributions to the fields of political science, philosophy, and religious studies. The editor of the journal Dissent for more than 30 years, he has also been an important public voice in national policy debates.

This discussion is sponsored by the international Council for Research in Values in Philosophy (CRVP) and the McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values (MCSCV). The McLean Center is named for its founder, Rev. George F. McLean, O.M.I., a metaphysics professor who devoted his life’s work to democratizing philosophy and promoting the research of philosophers from many cultural traditions around the globe. 

For more information or to RSVP, email or call 202-319-6089. 

MEDIA: To attend this event, contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at or 202-319-5600.