The Free Society: Foundations and Challenges

The Annual James Madison Program May Conference

May 14, 2007

See Conference Schedule for full details on panelists and conference sessions.

Freedom is the unifying theme of modern civilization.  For the last two centuries, almost all important movements of thought and action in the nations of the developed west have looked to freedom as their aim and justification.  Today, the aspiration to freedom seems to dominate political discourse in all corners of the world.  Nevertheless, freedom is not simply a creed but also a question.  For many disputes persist concerning the character of a truly free society, the conditions that allow freedom to flourish, and the challenges that free societies must confront.  Moreover, the very progress of human freedom tends to raise questions about its compatibility with other cherished principles such as equality, virtue, community, and tradition.

The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and the Association for the Study of Free Institutions are pleased to announce a conference addressed to some of the questions that arise in connection with the quest for freedom.  The program will include scholars in the social sciences and humanities speaking on a variety of issues:   What is the relationship between liberal education and the free society?  How is freedom to be reconciled with and supported by the discipline imposed by the rule of law?  Does a capitalist economy foster a society that is just as well as free?  How can freedom be preserved when a society is under threat of terrorist attack?  How does the aspiration to freedom appear in light of claims of divine revelation?  What historical conditions are necessary for free societies to emerge?  What are the prospects for the establishment of free institutions in nations that have hitherto been subjected to despotic government?

Video:

The Closing of the American Mind Revisited

The Rule of Law

The Moral Claims of Capitalism

Keynote Address

Security, Liberty, and Terror

Reason, Revelation, and Freedom: Benedict XVI's Regensburg Speech

The Historical Conditions of Free Institutions

Location:

Bowen Hall 222