Rights in the modern world are meaningless, existing only at the will of a sovereign lawmaker. A return to “perfectionist jurisprudence,” in which rights are derived from plural authorities, at least some of which are higher that the human sovereign, and constructed on genuine human goods, would restore the structural integrity and normative currency of human rights.
Defending the position that human beings have a special dignity because of their rational nature does not in any way imply that non-rational animals are not also deserving of a certain respect and appropriate treatment. While racism and sexism are moral evils, so-called “speciesism” is not morally wrong and cannot be compared to them.
Pope Benedict XVI often ventured into venues historically hostile to the Judeo-Christian tradition. A new collection of essays discusses many of these speeches, probing the relationship of reason to religion, the West, and natural law.
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.
At a time when debates about economic inequality occupy significant attention in the public square, Adam MacLeod offers a fresh way forward for thinking about private property and its contribution to the common good by rooting property rights in a robust account of freedom and human flourishing.
A superb collection of essays engages, challenges, and praises the work of the formidable John Finnis. Always acute in mental power, Finnis is also at turns witty and profound.
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.
The recent Obergefell decision should serve as a wake-up call to conservatives. In particular, conservatives should rethink the Republican Party platform and work to refocus the GOP around the broad theme of “nature.”
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.
Whether or not Locke would approve of it, there is a fundamental marriage right. It is ancient, not recent, and it secures the integrity of the natural family. In fact, nothing is more fundamental to our legal edifice than the ancient liberty of the natural family.
Catholic sexual ethics are as fully reasonable today as they were in the time of St Paul. In fact, the natural law understanding of human fulfillment is inherently intelligible even without a theistic framework.
Once I began thinking, reasoning, and examining my life, an extraordinary thing happened: I couldn’t stop. Reason led me to acknowledge natural law, which led me to begin rejecting some of my former ways of thinking and acting. Reason then led me to recognize God.
Patrick Lee and Robert P. George’s new book clearly establishes that the case for conjugal marriage is not based on irrational prejudice or sentimental appeal to tradition. It is based on a series of sophisticated arguments that deserve to be answered.
The anti-slavery arguments of American abolitionists demonstrate the way in which Lockean natural rights and Thomistic natural law can be reconciled.
It’s in seeking Jesus Christ with all our hearts that culture is built and society is renewed. It’s in prayer, the sacraments, changing diapers, balancing budgets, preaching homilies, loving a spouse, forgiving and seeking forgiveness—all in the spirit of charity—that, brick by brick, we bring about the kingdom of God. Adapted from an address delivered August 6th at the Archdiocese of Toronto’s “Faith in the Public Square” symposium.
The normalization of polygamy would undermine our commitment to human dignity—our sense that each human being is to be valued as an end in him- or herself, and not merely as a means to others’ ends.
The principles of natural law and the right to property could help overcome the dysfunction that has paralyzed land management in the western US.
To view practical agreements between Aristotelian-Thomist foundationalists and contemporary anti-foundationalist liberals as “progress” is to fiddle while Rome burns.
When we make moral judgments, we implicitly and unavoidably acknowledge that there are objective standards of right and wrong to which we ought to conform our feelings and actions.
Christians have nothing to fear and everything to gain from good social science. It provides a way to talk normatively about human flourishing in terms that are intelligible, legitimate, and persuasive to those outside the community of faith.
Every child has a right to be loved by his or her biological parents. Third-party reproduction violates this right by intentionally conceiving a child in a way that will alienate that child from at least one of her biological parents.
We are all called to defend marriage so that the truth can change hearts, minds, and lives. As the early pro-life activists did, we must invest the long-term political, legal, cultural, and spiritual capital to win down the line. The final installment in a three-part series.
The next generation of true culture-makers will be shaped purely by bad philosophy if its arguments go unanswered. As individuals and communities, we will be swayed by moral thought no matter what: the only question is whether it will be well thought out. The second in a three-part series.
Many Christians question the value of philosophical arguments for conjugal marriage, preferring to appeal to revelation. But our natural moral knowledge in some ways precedes revelation and helps us to understand it. The first of a three-part series.
Kevin Doyle’s review of Robert George's new book is based on a fundamental error. Conscience, rightly understood, is not simply self-will. Rather, conscience identifies one’s duties under the moral law.
Natural law does not demand capitalism, but we can deduce from natural law that some institutions that are key to market economies are normally just, while practices key to socialist arrangements are usually unjust.
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.
Natural law theory makes a very limited, but very important claim—that there is common ground between all human beings, and particularly between religious believers and non-believers, on which moral disagreements can be rationally adjudicated.
To reject the presence of natural law in documents of the Founding era is to embrace both cynicism and romanticism.
A recent claim to reject the natural law for its uselessness and false claims to neutrality misunderstands the first-personal perspective of contemporary natural law. The second in a two-part series.
A recent claim to reject the natural law risks misunderstanding the role of reason and overlooks the difference between practical reasoning and morality. The first in a two-part series.
A “Fantasy Slut League” created by high school boys in California suggests the reality of natural law even in those minds whose view of sexuality has been distorted by our culture.
Naïve proponents and skeptics of the natural law often point to the world “out there” as the source of objective truth (or lack thereof), but the truths of the natural law are to be found through the actions of our intellect.
Governments don’t legally recognize a certain type of relationship because they are suckers for romance; they do so because they are understandably afraid of the potentially destructive consequences of such romance.
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.
As a pluralistic liberal democracy, we should craft our laws so that individuals will never be unnecessarily coerced into violating their consciences.
A book about sex by J. Budziszewski uses natural law arguments to persuade young adults of the moral benefits of purity.
The failure to grasp the implications of intrinsic human worth plagues arguments for physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.
Despite their disagreements, conservatives and libertarians often agree on many things. Resolving their differences, however, means rejecting philosophical skepticism and taking right reason seriously.
One can neither deny nor question the natural law’s persuasiveness except by asking questions, conducting inquiries, achieving understandings, reaching judgments, and making choices—all of which are the natural law at work.
Whether we call it infanticide or after-birth abortion, ending the life of newborns kills human beings who are moral persons because they are rational beings.
It would be wrong for the United States to engage at this time in an attack on Iran or to participate substantially in an Israeli action.
The fundamental problem with the mandate is that it coerces some people into doing what they think is wrong, and this problem remains regardless of whether the coercion excuses the actions of the people being coerced.
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.
Personally opposed, but actively supporting…well, it’s complicated.
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 conjugal conception of marriage is just and coherent; the same-sex marriage proponents’ conception of marriage is unjust and incoherent.