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Ethik-Zentrum – Institut für Sozialethik


Prof. Dr.  Richard  Amesbury
Professor für theologische Ethik und Leiter des Instituts für Sozialethik
Tel.: +41 (0)44 634 85 10


Institut für Sozialethik
Ethik-Zentrum der Universität Zürich
Zollikerstr. 117
CH-8008 Zürich

Office 107


Professor Amesbury works on ethical and political questions having to do with religion in the modern world. His current book project, Secular State and Religious Nation (under contract with Columbia University Press), examines political uses of the secular-religious distinction in contemporary American culture. Prof. Amesbury serves on the steering committees of both the American Academy of Religion’s Religion and Politics Section and Law, Religion, and Culture Group and chairs the AAR’s Awards for Excellence in the Study of Religion.

Research Interests

  • Religion and political thought
  • Political theology
  • Relations between theological and philosophical ethics
  • Human rights and religion
  • The cultural construction of the category of “religion”

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

  • Working with A Secular Age – Interdisciplinary Reflections on Charles Taylor’s Conception of the Secular, 5 - 8 March 2014 Conference details
  • "Is Islam a Religion? The Politics of American Religion", Claremont McKenna College, L.J. Kutten Lecture in Philosophy and Religion at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, March 11, 2014
  • "The Myth of Religious Reasons: Public Reason Meets Political Theology" (with Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt University), Political Theology Group, American Philosophical Association Western Division Meeting, April 17, 2014

Selected Publications

  • "'Religion' as a Philosophical Problem: Historical and Conceptual Dilemmas in Contemporary Pluralist Philosophy of Religion," Sophia (2014).
  • "Rethinking 'Religion and Politics': Reflections on the Reception and Import of Talal Asad's Genealogies of Religion," Bulletin for the Study of Religion 43:1 (2014): 2-7.
  • “Secular State, Religious Nation? American ‘Civil Religion’ and the Paradox of Democratic Belonging,” Religion in the Public Sphere (Ars Disputandi Supplement Series), ed. Roger Trigg and Niek Brunsveld, 2011: 187-97.
  • “Public Reason without Exclusion? Clayton, Rawls, and the Vāda Tradition,” Political Theology 12:4 (2011): 577-93.
  • “Inter-Religious Declarations of Human Rights: Grounding Rights or Constructing ‘Religion’?” Religion and Human Rights, 5 (2010): 43-64.
  • Morality and Social Criticism. Basingstoke (U.K) and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.