About Christopher O. Tollefsen

Christopher O. Tollefsen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and a senior fellow of the Witherspoon Institute. His latest book, co-authored with Robert P. George, is Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (Doubleday, 2008). Tollefsen sits on the editorial board of Public Discourse.

by on November 17th, 2014

In spite of its many problematic aspects, the political thought of J.S. Mill provides a low but solid foundation for the essential convictions of the pro-life movement: that the unborn, in virtue of their common humanity, deserve the full protection of the law.

by on September 15th, 2014

Although we uphold the cultural taboo on incest, we accept something with precisely the same negative effect on integrity, marriage, and family: pornography.

by on August 5th, 2014

While Adam Seagrave offers a provocative and original reading of Locke, his assumptions about the self and ownership are deeply problematic.

by on June 12th, 2014

Senator Rubio was on solid ground in saying science has settled the question of when a human being's life begins. Science does not need to wait on philosophy’s pronouncements to investigate what the human embryo is and when its life begins.

by on April 29th, 2014

“Intention” and “choice” are complex concepts, but we must achieve clarity about them in order to protect human life and upright willing, as we should never choose to damage or destroy human life by intentionally killing a person.

by on April 7th, 2014

Although Nigel Biggar’s new book on just war has many strengths, the author gets himself into a moral muddle over the question whether the deaths of innocent non-combatants can be deliberately chosen in war.

by on February 25th, 2014

Both natural law thought and the Catechism agree: animals are not part of the same justice community as human beings, because they do not possess the dignity that comes from existing as a rational being.

by on January 27th, 2014

Contrary to the judgment of the Supreme Court, abortion is not a private issue. It snuffs out the existence of a member of the human community—a person like us with a radical capacity for reason and freedom.

by on December 20th, 2013

Because animals are not truly our equals, advocating that we should treat them as such weakens the pro-life cause. But animals are meant to be part of our households, and the way we treat them should express beauty and virtue, not decay, pride, and domination.

by on December 19th, 2013

Charles Camosy’s new book argues that we should treat animals with the same Christian justice that underlies our treatment of other people. But human beings and other animals are not fundamentally equal in the way that all human beings are, as free and rational beings created in the image of God.

by on November 12th, 2013

When President Obama lied about the Affordable Care Act, he substituted his own self-governance and self-constitution for that of the American people.

by on September 16th, 2013

We all have a moral obligation to use our surplus wealth to help those in need, but we should do so in a way that is effective, fair, and in accordance with our own vocations.

by on September 5th, 2013

A rant against private schools should teach all of us something about the purposes of education, and what responsible parents should seek for their children.

by on May 10th, 2013

The Gosnell case shows us that a society’s laws teach, and if they teach a lesson of injustice they will corrupt its people over time. Indeed, contemporary abortion jurisprudence undermines the very notion of natural rights and constitutional government.

by on March 14th, 2013

Is religious belief wrong, and are religious believers morally culpable for their false beliefs?

by on October 29th, 2012

Richard Mourdock’s comment didn’t imply that God wills rape; instead, it reminds us that God wills a great good in the coming-to-be of any human life, regardless of the evil circumstances surrounding its conception.

by on June 19th, 2012

Lying is always wrong because it always compromises the love of truth that we need to know and love God better.

by on June 18th, 2012

Insofar as our lives are governed by reason, we cannot live without truth and a love for it.

by on June 12th, 2012

In his new book "Where the Conflict Really Lies," Alvin Plantinga levels a devastating critique against the “new atheism” espoused by thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

by on February 20th, 2012

Were the central task of government to be seen as that of aiding citizens in their own self-constitution, oriented towards real human goods including the good of religion, the HHS mandate would be seen for the unjust imposition it is.

by on February 3rd, 2012

The precepts of the natural law are obligatory not because they are commanded, but because they are necessary for our well-being. God’s revelation of these precepts is better understood as a divine reminding and authoritative inviting.

by on December 19th, 2011

The absolute prohibition of intrinsically evil acts is the limit on one’s positive obligations.

by on December 1st, 2011

The tradition of common morality does not permit us to excuse the atomic bomb as a “necessary” evil.

by on November 21st, 2011

Moral absolutes are not “mere” restrictions on our actions. Nor should they be suspended even when upholding them might bring about grave consequences. They are essential for protecting human wellbeing.

by on October 14th, 2011

The presumptive starting point in the natural law and, more specifically, Christian tradition is one of absolute opposition to intentional killing of beings created in the image of God, for which exceptions must be earned; but the traditional justifications for such exceptions fail.

by on September 30th, 2011

Nothing that a man does can change his nature as man, and so, considered in himself, it will always remain wrong to kill him. This should be the final judgment of practical reason when brought to bear on the question of capital punishment.

by on September 16th, 2011

Intentional killing is always wrong, and support of capital punishment often stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of human dignity.

by on August 10th, 2011

Contraception does not respond to an authentic healthcare need, and the state acts untruthfully and beyond its legitimate authority when it mandates contraception coverage.

by on June 17th, 2011

Those who care for the severely disabled and dependent testify to our sense that they are part of the human community.

by on May 13th, 2011

The requirements of natural reason in the pursuit of goods provide a more adequate starting point for moral reflection than the theological considerations in which moral reflection should come to its fruition.

by on April 8th, 2011

A person bears moral responsibility for the foreseeable side effects of his reckless actions.

by on February 21st, 2011

The Live Action case is very different from the Nazis-at-the-door problem, but lying is justified in neither situation.

by on February 14th, 2011

Lying, even for laudable reasons, is wrong.

by on February 9th, 2011

The pro-life cause must be advanced by truth and by love, and it must be willing to engage in self-criticism when it fails to meet its own exacting standards.

by on October 1st, 2010

Accepting the “liberal” definition on pregnancy can actually help clarify the morality of contraception, abortion, and embryo adoption.

by on August 3rd, 2010

Americans must still wrestle with what it means to take the lives of innocent civilians intentionally.

by on June 22nd, 2010

Under the new health-care law, pro-lifers may have to accept inferior health plans, rather than wrongly pay into abortion providing ones.

by on May 7th, 2010

Three issues—the right to secure borders, the moral costs of illegal immigration, and the virtues of generous neighborliness and forgiveness—must be clarified in order to address the problems of immigration reform.

by on May 4th, 2010

Sometimes a defense of shared liberal values can become the partisan promotion of one of liberalism's strands.

by on February 26th, 2010

Both Marc Thiessen and his critics have misunderstood an important moral distinction on the question of torture.

by on February 23rd, 2010

Critics of home-schooling need to be tutored about the nature of education and the family.

by on December 4th, 2009

Having spent 20 years wrongly diagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state, Rom Houben reminds us that disabled persons are capable of many more substantive opportunities for human fulfillment than we are initially inclined to believe. But is bodily life just as such worth preserving? Can care-givers rightly remove hydration and nutrition?

by on October 30th, 2009

Sugar, spice, and everything nice or snaps, snails, and puppy-dog tails? A controversy over a South African runner makes us ask what boys and girls are made of.

by on October 9th, 2009

If citizens and politicians believe that victory is to the loudest, or to the most dramatic, then loud and dramatic they will be. The process of public discourse, by contrast, is often deliberative, difficult, and slow. Its participants must, on occasion, “dare to be boring.”

by on September 25th, 2009

Pragmatic and moral considerations should not be allowed to distort science, nor should they distract philosophy from its pursuit of truth.

by on September 4th, 2009

Those who favor providing health care to all shouldn’t necessarily oppose the “public option,” but they will be unable to support a bill if it endorses and entrenches the taking of innocent human life through abortion.

by on July 31st, 2009

As recent polls and recent events show, Americans remain morally opposed to sexual infidelity in marriage. At the same time, Americans show broad acceptance of premarital sex. But an examination of the reasons why infidelity within marriage is detrimental to human flourishing reveals sexual infidelity prior to marriage to be just as harmful.

by on June 30th, 2009

Revelations about the infidelities of prominent social conservatives like South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Senator John Ensign have led many to mock advocates of public virtue who nonetheless succumb to personal vice. But what’s so bad about hypocrisy?

by on June 12th, 2009

If religious traditions, belief systems, and moral frameworks are the result of a genuine commitment to and search for the truth, then disagreement of truth claims among adherents must be taken as a sign that some, or even all, of the searches have failed. How can this be a good state of affairs?

by on April 28th, 2009

The recent publication of the Torture Memos and of the International Red Cross report on the treatment of high-level detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 has returned to national prominence the discussion of the morality of torture and “enhanced interrogation” techniques. It is important to be clear, as a moral matter, on what boundaries should be accepted in interrogation of human beings; a responsible and non-politicized discussion is essential on this difficult issue.