Was It Science, Not Religion?

Maimon Schwarzschild

San Diego Law Review

Abstract: Does freedom of conscience, and perhaps freedom of thought generally, have religious roots? Ronald Beiner’s Three Versions of the Politics of Conscience: Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke traces the idea of conscience as a factor in Western political thought to ideas that crystallized in the seventeenth century. Beiner examines three leading seventeenth century thinkers – Hobbes, Spinoza, and Locke – to explore whether conscience, or rather the idea of freedom of conscience, was specially a religious imperative for these thinkers: whether their religious commitments or their respect for religious integrity underlay and motivated their ideas about freedom of conscience.


Schwarzschild M. Was It Science, Not Religion? 47 San Diego L. Rev. 1125 (2010).

Three Versions of the Politics of Conscience: Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke

Ronald Beiner

San Diego Law Review

Abstract: The organizers of this symposium have posed the question: is the idea of conscience fundamentally rooted in religious commitments? This question inevitably draws us back to the seventeenth century, for that is when the discourse of conscience ultimately originated. And when we consult the most important sources from that epoch, we get, I believe a clear answer to the question, although it may not be the answer that the organizers of the symposium anticipated when they conceived the theme of this gathering.


Beiner R. Three Versions of the Politics of Conscience: Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke. 47 San Diego L. Rev. 1107 (2010).