With increasingly globalized economies and accelerated levels of migration and urbanization, the interdependency between divergent social, cultural, and religious groups, both in Europe and beyond, seems to be hardwired into our social structures. But this means that very different social, cultural, and religious groups must find a way to develop a shared system of rules, customs, and expectations through which to interact productively and peacefully in the public sphere.
The question we aims to explore in this project is: what sorts of principles might guide a shared civil order, res publica, for a complex and differentiated society, that is (a) robust enough to permit a reasonable threshold of civility and public order, yet (b) flexible enough to accommodate a significant amount of cultural, religious, and moral diversity?
The goal is to articulate and explore the viability of a republic(res publica) that is institutionally and culturally 'robust' enough, or informed by a substantial vision of the common good, to allow citizens to interact peacefully and productively, but flexible and open enough in its demands to allow citizens to cultivate diverse forms of associative identity and belonging.
The project interrogates the following two constructive hypotheses:
(i) The project of constructing a shared civil order must successfully integrate a wide range of diverse social projects pursued by diverse associations, some territorial and other non-territorial, while simultaneously affording such diverse projects sufficient autonomy to coherently pursue their distinctive purposes, and contribute to the good of the wider civil order in their own distinctive manner.
(ii) The type of civil order that may have a reasonable chance of respecting the exigencies of local normative orders, while at the same time reconciling them with an acceptable overarching normative order would be one that is composed of a plurality of publics, both territorial and nonterritorial, woven together through a federated polity, granting significant autonomy to (a) local political associations (e.g. cantons, municipalities), and (b) local civil associations of a nonterritorial character (e.g. philanthropic associations, universities, business associations).