Universiteit Leiden

nl en


The Secular Outlook

The Secular Outlook describes what moral and political secularism means. It paints the image of a world view in which state and religion are kept well separated.

Paul Cliteur
30 September 2015

This book:

  • shows how people can live together and overcome the challenge of religious terrorism by adopting a 'secular outlook' on life and politics;
  • shows how secularism can answer the problem of religious terrorism;
  • provides new perspectives on how religious minorities can be integrated into liberal democracies;
  • reveals how secularism has gained a new political and moral significance;
  • also examines such topics as atheism, religious criticism and free speech.

The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism

Information about the series you find on the title page. The table of contents you find here.  The introduction you find here.


Acclaim for the Secular Outlook

  • 'This book would be ideal for an upper–level undergraduate or graduate religious studies or philosophy seminar. Highly educated lay readers and academics interested in religion and secularism will also likely find the book of interest.' (Journal of Contemporary Religion, 1 January 2012)
  • 'The book is a balanced account of what went wrong in defending liberal democracy in the past two decades and what is to be done to revigorate the foundations for liberal democracy .' (Acta Politica, 2011)
  • 'It is a level–headed contribution to an important debate about how best to address religious fundamentalism and political fanaticism.' (The Christian Century, 8 March 2011)
  • 'Cliteur′s book is timely and well written. It covers some very recent events, and offers coherent – if sometime impatient – perspectives on religion from the secular standpoint. Recommended. Upper–level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.' (Choice , 1 April 2011)
  • 'You actually have to focus on the paragraphs. That doesn′t mean that the style is inaccessible or difficult – not at all, it′s very readable – but this is a meaty book that asks for (and rewards) a certain amount of concentration.' (Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, 7 April 2011)
  • 'The primary goal of this book, its author says, is ‘to show how religious believers and unbelievers can live peacefully together and what principles the state should try to stimulate in its citizenry to achieve social harmony and social cohesion.′ He recommends a moral and political vision which he calls ""a ′secular outlook′ on life."" Its four main components are atheism, criticism of religion, free speech, and ‘moral autonomy.′ Cliteur wants us to be freethinkers and to expose the ways in which sacred texts actually endorse or even encourage violence, terrorism, and injustice. Cliteur is right, of course, that free inquiry and criticism should be protected.' (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 6 March 2011)
  • 'Accessible, engaging and convincing, it is the perfect tome for those who wish to learn about the ethical and logical case for a secular moral and political framework.' (Tribune, 4 March 2011)
  • 'A robust defence of the Enlightenment tradition and a must–read for those concerned by the corrosive aspects of religion on society.' (Times Higher Education, 10 February 2011)
  • 'But Cliteur challenges this interpretation, charging Armstrong with seeking to dismiss fundamentalism as a ‘perversion′ of religion when in fact the fundamentalists can claim to be adopting the very attitude their sacred texts demand.' (Church of England Newspaper, 7 January 2011)
  • 'The book has an interesting discussion of the philosophical justifications of free expression. Free thought, combining religious criticism and freedom of speech, is necessary for emancipating
  • humankind.' (Open Parachute, 18 November 2010)
  • 'The Secular Outlook is a thought–provoking discussion of how liberal, secular democracies can and should respond to extremism and a much–needed exposition of the vital importance, in that response, of rationality and an emphasis on common humanity.' (New Internationalist, 1 December 2010)
  •  "Secularism is one of those concepts that is widely used without a clear notion of what it is. Dutch humanist philosopher Paul Cliteur′s The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism supplies a theoretical clarification of what secularism is and what it is not. However, the book is more than a helpful analytical exercise–it is also an urgent plea for political and moral secularism." ( Free Inquiry, October 2010) 


  • Review by the Belgian philosopher Jean Paul van Bendegem, professor Logic and Philosophy of Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel;
  • Under the title 'Secularism is important' a review by Ken Perrott at the Open Parachute blog;
  • Interview by Theodor Holman in the programm Oba-live at 27 September, 2010;
  • Review in De Geus, November 2010 (jg 42, nr. 9, pp. 42-43) by Jurgen Knockaert.
  • Review in Free Inquiry (October/November 2010, pp. 61-63) by Dutch philosopher Floris van den BergThe Secular Outlook was also discussed by Floris van den Berg at Liberales.


Cover of the Italian translation of The Secular Outlook.
This website uses cookies.  More information.