Public Discourse exists to fill a void in the Internet publishing world. Six years ago, I left First Things and moved out to South Bend to start a PhD program in political philosophy. At that time, we launched PD. Here is how I described our mission:
We live in a sound-bite age. Rhetoric often replaces reason. Considered judgments often yield to the pressure for quick reactions. Serious moral reasoning often gets short shrift in our public discussions. Public Discourse seeks to fill this vacuum. We make use of the new forums for communication that modern technology provides, but we don’t let them undermine the quality of our thinking. We draw on some of the academy’s best scholars, making their years of study and expertise available and accessible to a broader community, but we don’t get bogged down in technicalities and academic jargon. We can do this, because at the Witherspoon Institute we have created a community of distinguished scholars from diverse backgrounds and fields of study. Public Discourse brings these voices to the public. And we don’t shy away from the most controversial of questions, convinced that careful reasoning can settle many of the challenges before us.
We are not a Journal. We are not a Blog. Our aim is to provide a venue where readers can find out what our associated scholars are thinking about or working on—whether in their own academic scholarship or in informed commentary on contemporary events. Our hope is that by benefiting from these scholars’ perspectives, readers will be better equipped to form their own.
I think we’ve been pretty successful. Consider just a handful of our articles from the past year:
- Mark Regnerus: A Married Mom and Dad Really Do Matter: New Evidence from Canada
- Daniel Kuebler: Survey Says: Women Are for Life
- Ryan Anderson: Marriage Matters, and Redefining It Has Social Costs
- Jennifer Lahl: Egg Freezing: Beating Biology and Buying Time, But at What Cost?
- Archbishop Charles Chaput: Law and Morality in Public Discourse: How Christians Can Rebuild Our Culture
- Richard Evans: Befriending Those With Same-Sex Attraction: One Celibate Man’s View
- Morgan Bennett: Internet Pornography & the First Amendment
- Carissa Mulder: The Single Life: Where Do We Go From Here?
- Robert George and Hamza Yusuf: Hotels and the Pornography Plague: An Example of Moral Responsibility from Scandinavia
When we launched PD, we were publishing two articles a week. A year or so later, we moved to three articles. Then, this time three years ago, we started publishing an article every weekday.
Our contributors—thoughtful, intelligent, insightful—have made Public Discourse the forum we first envisioned for our readers. While we don’t pay them much, we do compensate them for their time and effort in writing for us. If you’d like, you can help us do that by making a contribution here.
And our editorial team has been top-notch. Over the past six years, several excellent managing editors have worked for Public Discourse: first Matthew Schmitz (now deputy editor of First Things), then Lauren Wilson (now managing editor of First Things), then Octavia Ratiu (now pursing graduate studies at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences), then Gabrielle Speach (now pursuing graduate studies at Princeton University and who has become Gabrielle Girgis, thanks to the match-making talents of this editor). For the past year, we have been fortunate to have the exquisite editorial talents of Serena Sigillito.
Young editors need to eat, so we try to pay them a living wage. You can help feed them here.
We must also meet the costs of maintaining the website, the e-mailing program, and several other technologies that make online publications thrive. Keep us up and running by making a donation here.
These efforts don’t require too much money, but they do require some. If you enjoy reading these articles and would like to help support the success of Public Discourse, please consider making a donation to our publisher, the Witherspoon Institute. You can do so here; please include a note marking it for Public Discourse.
You can also further the work of Public Discourse by sharing our articles with your friends, particularly on social media. Follow Public Discourse on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow me and Serena on Twitter, as we both share articles from other sources that might be of interest to readers of PD.
Public Discourse will resume publishing Monday September 8. In the meantime, a dissertation needs to be completed.
Ryan T. Anderson is the Editor of Public Discourse, the William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a PhD Candidate at the University of Notre Dame. If all goes well, he will defend his dissertation later this year.