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February 08, 2008



Pernicious or bonkers.

That's the BEST case you can make. Oh dear...

expat lumberjack

Hi Oliver,

Eugene Volokh had a good post about this on his blog, though from an American point of view:


The most relevant quote:

"American courts are governed by American law, but American law has long provided that parties to contracts can provide for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (such as arbitration). American law has likewise long provided that some contractual disputes would be resolved with reference to foreign law, especially when the law is expressly provided for by the contract. It doesn't matter whether the arbitration or the foreign law is secular or religious -- secular and religious rules are treated basically equally, on the principle that the parties' contractual choices should be honored unless some extraordinary circumstance makes it unfair to do so.

"One could argue that American courts shouldn't be able to apply religious rules because of concerns about excessive entanglement of the government and religion. But even if that's so in some situations, it wouldn't apply when a court is merely asked to confirm an arbitration award rather than to applying the religious rules in the first instance, and it also wouldn't apply when the religious rules are part of the law of a foreign country (such as Saudi Arabia)."


Dear Oliver Kamm,
You said in your article that you are 'unfazed' by 'Moral Relativism' because you don't find it 'significant'. Surely it should be significant for people, such as you and I, who believe in value pluralism and the virtues of a liberal society? For a moral relativist would dispute the moral arguments for the liberal society you advocate on the grounds they have no rational basis. I challange you to find a non-moral argument for the liberal society that you advocate! How can a society be advocated on terms other than moral? Therefore you should be concerned with the ideological threat 'moral relativism' may or could pose.

best wishes,

Luke Burke


The Archbishop is actually a muslim. When is the CoE going to get rid of him ?


I fail to see what all the excitment is about. We already have religious forms of arbitrage for Catholics and Jews. Why should Muslims not have them as well? The way the whole debate has been positioned (chopping hands off murderers vs. liberal British law, which was exactly how Doug Murray was trying to spin it on Newsnight) is wholly ludicrous.

Tim Worstall pretty much summed it up for me:

The giggles rather come from the former Archbishop of Canterbury saying such a thing. Has he never heard of Canon Law? That is, a different and discrete system of laws within our society that applies to one group and one group only: the Church of England and its priests (and sometimes its adherents)?

Our Cormac also piles in: yet while a Catholic might legally divorce the Church will not recognise that, while a Catholic may remarry after such a divorce, the Church will not recognise that. We already have a splintered legal system.

And not just for religous matters either. To sign up as a doctor puts you voluntarily under the legal system of the General Medical Council, as a solicitor under the Law Society. Many contracts insist upon arbitration clauses.


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