So Princeton University Press tells me they have ordered a new printing of 1,000 more copies of Why Tolerate Religion?, in addition to the 2,000 initial run from October--so while I won't be retiring on the royalties, I must say it's quite a remarkable experience to be on the verge of selling 3,000 hardcover copies of an academic book! Thanks to those of you out there who have bought a copy!
In addition to the event in DC in April, I'll be doing something similar for the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles in early October; more details on that to come.
The book sales have undoubtedly been helped by some favorable publicity in media with a broader reach, like The New Statesman in England and Stanley Fish's New York Times blog. There was even a surprisingly positive review in the right-wing Jerusalem Post of all places (by Cornell historian Glenn Altschuler) and also a favorable and fair-minded review from David Gordon at the Mises Institute (who raised the reasonable anarchist objection to my final position). But I have to admit this is the first time I've ever been mentioned in a review of a rock 'n' roll band! I have not yet signed on as the opening act, but we'll see.
Some readers have asked about my reaction to the review by Robert M. Adams (North Carolina). Given that it would have been hard to choose a reviewer who more clearly combined philosophical talent with philosophical and religious views less friendly to some of the central theses of the book, I thought it was quite generous, and rather restrained in the criticisms someone with his sympathies and commitments ought to have made. I was certainly pleased that Professor Adams found the discussion of the legal issues "thoughtful and interestingly argued," given how little sympathy he has for my substantive philosophical assumptions. I guess the crucial bit was this:
I found these middle chapters of the book disappointing, and was left wondering for what audience they were written. His arguments for their negative conclusion are likely to be found unsurprising by those who agree with Leiter in supposing that "religious belief in the post-Enlightenment era involves culpable failures of epistemic warrant" (p. 82).
It is quite fair to say that the book was not written to persuade those, like Adams, who do not think religious belief involves culpable failures of epistemic warrant. They can not be persuaded by arguments, in my view, and, in any case, that would have been to write a different book, which others have written. Beyond that, I will say that I thought Adams's objections to the characterization of religion I offered often lost sight of the fact that what was at stake was not what makes religion important to believers, but what characterizes religious conscience such that it deserves special moral and legal solicitude. Perhaps there are reasons to think the typically institutional and social character of religious practices, for example, is important in that regard, but it is not clear to me how.