1st Edition

Conservatism and Grace The Conservative Case for Religion by Establishment

By Sebastian Morello Copyright 2023
    306 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This book offers a systematic and detailed examination of the conservative case for religion by establishment. In doing so, the author demonstrates that the conservative political tradition is rooted in an inescapably religious worldview, and in turn shows what the future of conservatism might be.

    The author begins the book by analysing the thought of prominent proponents of secular conservatism, chiefly examining the work of Roger Scruton. The author develops a case to show that Scruton’s arguments on the privatisation of religion are in tension with his basing of a conservative political settlement on "transcendent bonds". The author then examines alternatives to secular conservatism, especially the chief religious and metaphysical commitments of early conservatives, Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre. Finally, in seeking to establish a foundational argument for religion by establishment within the conservative tradition, and more broadly to unify the diverse commitments and objections of conservatives, the author develops a case that draws on Scruton’s personalism, as well as the thought of Martin Buber, Andrew Pinsent, and Robert Spaemann. In the course of developing his foundational argument, the author incorporates findings from experimental psychology and themes from contemporary theology. The result is a convincing argument in favour of establishmentarian conservatism, as well as the role of religious ideas in our self-understanding as individuals and as a political community.

    Conservatism and Grace will appeal to scholars and advanced students interested in political philosophy, philosophy of religion, theology, and the history of conservatism.

    1. The Notion of Secular Conservatism

    1.1 The Secular Principles of a Conservative Society

    1.2 Scruton’s Uprooting of Conservatism from its Historically Religious Framework

    1.3 Scruton’s Re-rooting of a Secular Conservatism: National Loyalty

    1.4 A Preliminary Alternative to Scruton’s Secular Conservatism

    2. Religion by Establishment in Edmund Burke

    2.1 Burke’s Teleological Worldview

    2.2 Summary of Burke’s Politico-Religious Thought 

    3. Religion by Establishment in Joseph de Maistre

    3.1 Maistre’s Sacrificio-Platonic Ontology

    3.2 Summary of Maistre’s Politico-Religious Thought

    4. A Foundational Conservative Case for Religion by Establishment

    4.1 Second-Person Perspective

    4.2 Second-Person Perspective and Christianity

    4.3 Second-Person Perspective and Conservatism

    5. Conclusion


    Sebastian Morello is a lecturer, public speaker, editor, and columnist based in Bedfordshire, England. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Buckingham, UK under the supervision of Sir Roger Scruton, Andrew Pinsent, and Alicja Gescinska. He is the author of The World as God's Icon: Creator and Creation in the Platonic Thought of Thomas Aquinas (2020).