Reason operating without error judges that no human being should ever intend the death of another human being for any reason whatsoever. No achievable good can justify such a choice. And that is the foundation for the case against the death penalty.
There is a genuine tension, not just in Aquinas but in Church teaching more generally, between claims about the intrinsic goodness, sanctity, and inviolability of human life, and claims about political authority to kill. The second in a two-part series.
Arguments against the death penalty can be made not only on the basis of theology but also on the basis of natural law philosophy. The first in a two-part series.
Both human embryos and human five-year-olds are human beings equal in fundamental worth and dignity. But there are differences between the embryos and five-year-olds that are or can be morally relevant to the decision concerning whom to rescue.
Our enslavement to technology leaves us alienated, depressed, and distracted, first of all by disrupting the cultivation of virtue in the home. Andy Crouch has written a thoughtful and practical guide for families looking to redirect their attention from technology to what really matters.
Kevin Vallier’s recent book is a rich and rewarding attempt to reconcile people of faith with public reason liberalism.
Contemporary legalism downplays, ignores, and occasionally denigrates the “rules” of morality in favor of mercy, accompaniment, and integration, because it fails to see that there is an essential and constitutive relationship between morality and human flourishing.
Showing mercy to Dylann Roof by refusing to impose the death penalty would respect the acts of both his victims, who showed him welcome, and their families, who showed him forgiveness. In this way, good could be drawn from evil, and the sinfulness of Dylann Roof’s actions could be overcome by love.
Joseph Boyle was a colleague, mentor, and friend to many associated with Public Discourse and in the broader academic community. He will be sorely missed.
Couples who adopt children out of an abundance of spousal love are creative and life-giving; they help form the identity of their children in a way that mirrors God’s adoption of us through baptism.
A new book defends the view that parents have primary authority over their children. The role of the state is to help parents, not to take over tasks that are properly parental.
Christopher Kaczor’s The Gospel of Happiness brings new insight to Christian practice by applying the lessons of positive psychology to it. His approach shows how both religious and secular seekers of happiness can learn and benefit from the other tradition.
Moral reasons exist for the use of contraceptives to defend against sexual assault, thanks to the principle of double effect—but these reasons do not apply to using contraception because of the Zika virus.
Some rights are grounded in the need for agents to fulfill their perceived responsibilities, including their obligation to pursue knowledge. This obligation, along with the communal nature of inquiry, supports a right to free speech that acquires particular stringency in those communities where inquiry is most essential.
Good work connects us more deeply to the world around us. By contrast, automation can often alienate us from the physical world, changing the way we think and act.
No one who claims to be pro-life can say that women, children, the elderly, and indeed, the unborn of a nation may be legitimately targeted with death for the sake of the consequences, however beneficial.
Senator Rubio is on the firmest possible scientific ground when he says that science shows that the child in the womb, from the very point of successful fertilization, is indeed a human being.
There are often great temptations to violate the absolute norms against intentional killing and against lying. On the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs over Japan, we should remember what is at stake in such decisions and how agents constitute themselves in their choosing.
Gender is a way of communicating truths or falsehoods about one’s sex and its corresponding social and cultural roles. An age of gender confusion and rejection calls for reflection on important issues that, in an upright age, would hardly arise. The second in a two-part series.
As animals that reproduce sexually, humans in the paradigm case are either male or female, with the sexes specified by reproductive roles they can potentially fulfill. According to this account, it is impossible for someone to change his or her sex, and all attempts to do so involve mutilation. The first of a two-part series.
It is philosophically and theologically defensible for Catholics to believe that the death penalty is intrinsically wrong.
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.
Although we uphold the cultural taboo on incest, we accept something with precisely the same negative effect on integrity, marriage, and family: pornography.
While Adam Seagrave offers a provocative and original reading of Locke, his assumptions about the self and ownership are deeply problematic.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When President Obama lied about the Affordable Care Act, he substituted his own self-governance and self-constitution for that of the American people.
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.
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.
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.
Is religious belief wrong, and are religious believers morally culpable for their false beliefs?
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.
Lying is always wrong because it always compromises the love of truth that we need to know and love God better.
Insofar as our lives are governed by reason, we cannot live without truth and a love for it.
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.
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.
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.
The absolute prohibition of intrinsically evil acts is the limit on one’s positive obligations.
The tradition of common morality does not permit us to excuse the atomic bomb as a “necessary” evil.
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.
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.
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.
Intentional killing is always wrong, and support of capital punishment often stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of human dignity.
Contraception does not respond to an authentic healthcare need, and the state acts untruthfully and beyond its legitimate authority when it mandates contraception coverage.
Those who care for the severely disabled and dependent testify to our sense that they are part of the human community.