Agnostic Education Conflict and Centered Pluralism in Catholic Higher Education

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Christopher Haw

Abstract

In the context of an increasingly diverse and secular academic environment, some Catholic universities have appealed to concepts of a “centered pluralism” and a community in difference. This paper uses Chantal Mouffe’s theory of agonistic pluralism to partially affirm these efforts, while clarifying how such pluralism is “conflictual” and cannot evade the exclusions of “the political.” I argue such agonistic pluralism entails a non-foundational account of reason that, at the same time, can resonate with the often overlooked call for “cross-disciplinary confrontation” in the controversial Land O’ Lakes Statement on Catholic higher education. In light of the Congregation on Catholic Education’s highlighting gender theory as a key topic of “educational crisis” today, I conclude by pointing to the theological work of James Alison on gender as a helpful exemplar in agonistic disputation.

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