Metaphysical Univocity and the Immanent Frame: Defending Religious Liberty in a Secular Age?

66 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2015 Last revised: 4 Mar 2016

Date Written: April 16, 2015


As the first of three installments, this article examines and appropriates concepts such as metaphysical univocity (a scheme initiated by John Duns Scotus and enriched by insights proffered by Muslim philosopher Ibn Sīnā) and then considers the immanent frame as part of my defense of religious liberty. The second installment applies my defense to current controversies in the United States. The third utilizes ideas and concepts from the first two articles as part of a comparative study of religious liberty in Turkey wherein I considers the status of religious minorities within Turkey's borders. This tri-part study is sparked by the contention that: The freedom to practice one's chosen faith is of vital importance to the United States. It was a quest for religious freedom that motivated many of America's founders, and this remains fundamental to [the United States]. Recently President Obama said: "The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in [our] country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are." Today, throughout the world and indeed even here in the [Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe] (OSCE), governments and societies are struggling with rising religious diversity even as they are called upon to protect the fundamental rights of individuals in all communities who seek to practice their own religious beliefs.

As [former] Secretary Clinton put it, "religious freedom provides a cornerstone for every healthy society." The right to believe or not to believe, and to practice one's convictions without fear of government interference or restriction, is a basic human right. Today, religious freedom is restricted in ways both overt and subtle in too many countries, including participating States. [Ambassador Ian Kelly, United States Mission to the OSCE, Delivered at the OSCE (March 3, 2011).]

The first installment of this project shows there are, indeed, grounds for pessimism regarding the fate of religious liberty in both the Latin West and the United States.

Keywords: ambitious egalitarianism, exclusive humanism, immanent frame, John Dun Scotus, Latin West, metaphysical univocity, neutrality, religious liberty, secularity, separation of church and state, United States

Suggested Citation

Hutchison, Harry G., Metaphysical Univocity and the Immanent Frame: Defending Religious Liberty in a Secular Age? (April 16, 2015). Southwestern Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 1, pp. 49-113, 2016, George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 15-13, Available at SSRN: or

Harry G. Hutchison (Contact Author)

Regent University - School of Law ( email )

1000 Regent University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
United States

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