Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference

John Inazu, Washington University, St. Louis

  • Date Oct 6, 2016
  • Venue Warner Memorial Library
    Eastern University
    1300 Eagle Road
    Saint Davids, PA 19087

Confident Pluralism argues that we can and must live together peaceably in spite of deep and sometimes irresolvable differences over politics, religion, sexuality, and other important matters. We can do so in two important ways – by insisting on constitutional commitments that honor and protect difference and by embodying tolerance, humility, and patience in our speech, our collective action (protests, strikes, and boycotts), and our relationships across difference. Confident Pluralism suggests that it is often better to tolerate than to protest, better to project humility than defensiveness, and better to wait patiently for the fruits of persuasion than to force the consequences of coercion. Confident Pluralism will not give us the American Dream. But it might help avoid an American Nightmare.



John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He teaches courses in criminal law, law and religion, and the First Amendment. His scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related issues of political and legal theory. John’s first book, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly, was published by Yale University Press in 2012. He has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA Today, CNN, The Hedgehog Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Despite the confident pluralism of his academic training (BSE and JD from Duke and PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill), he remains an avid Duke fan. Click here to learn more about the concepts behind Confident Pluralism in John’s own words, and here to see John’s Q Talk about about leaving our echo chambers and engaging across difference.