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Spitz Prize awarded to Liberalism's Religion

Cécile Laborde has won the prestigious book prize, handed out by The International Conference for the Study of Political Thought (CSPT), for her work on the complex relationship between religion, law and the state in Western liberal democracies.

The International Conference for the Study of Political Thought (CSPT)  has announced that the winner of their 2019 Prize is Cécile Laborde, Nuffield Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford for her book ‘Liberalism's Religion’. The Spitz Prize is awarded annually for the best book in the field published two years earlier. To be eligible, the book must be primarily theoretical rather than historical. It should make a new contribution to the thinking in the field and be neither text book nor an edited volume.

The prize is awarded by a panel of US-based scholars in political theory, in this instance Kinch Hoekstra (chair of the committee), Shalini Satkunanandan and Elizabeth Wingrove. Laborde’s work, published by Harvard University Press in 2017 was praised as ‘an acute, clear, and carefully constructed book about a freighted topic’. Liberalism’s Religion explores the complex relationship between religion, law and the state in Western liberal democracies. The book breaks ‘religion’ down into its various dimensions to explore how they interact, and asks whether Western theories of secularism and religion be applied universally. The Prize Committee which commended the book for its impartiality, stated that it ‘should transform the discussion of religion in the liberal state.’

The Spitz Prize, named after David and Elaine Spitz was founded in 1988 and has been awarded to books by writers such as Robert A. Dahl, John Rawls and Martha Nussbaum. It is organised by the CSPT which was founded in 1960s with an emphasis on 'the humanistic style of thinking' about political problems. The words, ‘the humanist style... has more power than any other to engage thinking men in rational dialogue about the ends of politics’ were included in the announcement of its foundation.

Professor Cécile Laborde is Professor of Political Theory FBA, Nuffield Chair of Political Theory