Category Archives: Philosophy


by on April 15th, 2014

Steven Pinker understands the limits of scientific knowledge no better than the fundamentalist understands the limits of biblical knowledge.

by on April 14th, 2014

If we want to move public discourse in the right direction, we should rely on the many assumptions we share with most of our contemporaries.

by on April 8th, 2014

Our culture has become soft. We suppose that sex is too trivial to require virtue, yet we also believe it is so significant that to suggest any restraint upon its consensual exercise is an affront to the most important fount of human dignity.

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 April 2nd, 2014

If a society regards governmental manipulation of money as the antidote to economic challenges, a type of poison will work its way through the body politic, undermining justice and the common good.

by on March 27th, 2014

As a philosopher, Locke was both historically great and uniquely ambivalent. This combination provides extraordinarily fertile ground for uniting modern and pre-modern insights that seem opposed.

by on March 26th, 2014

Our modern intellectual context is profoundly at odds with genuine Aristotelian-Thomism. If we want to infuse the public discourse with sound philosophy, we must soberly recognize the obstacles before us and confront them in the spirit of devotion to truth. The first of a two part series.

by on February 28th, 2014

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.

by on February 26th, 2014

Biology continues to offer us new and exciting insights into the world. These insights need to be integrated into a philosophical perspective that is richer than the reductive materialism that is often linked with the empirical sciences. In this endeavor, biology needs the philosophy of nature.

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 February 24th, 2014

Animals are not simply “a gift for human beings.” The needless cruelty inflicted on animals by factory farming not only violates a duty to provide them just treatment, but far outweighs the goods that humans gain by eating such meat.

by on February 20th, 2014

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.

by on February 12th, 2014

Thomas Paine’s rationalistic emphasis on freedom, equality, and rights form the basis of our political discourse. Even so, Edmund Burke has something essential to teach us: the way we order our society will always be the consequence, first and foremost, of the way we love.

by on February 7th, 2014

If we looked at actual young men and women, and not abstractions, we might begin to think of other things besides the ratio of members of each sex participating in this or that activity. We might think about love.

by on February 6th, 2014

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.

by on February 5th, 2014

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.

by on February 4th, 2014

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.

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 January 21st, 2014

The morality of the market, important as it is in a free society, is not the only kind of morality that matters in common life.

by on January 17th, 2014

The embrace of a materialist and mechanistic view of the world, taking its inspiration from the rise of modern science, results in a loss of the sense of transcendence. But God is not simply some finite object in a universe of other objects—he is reason, being, and order itself.

by on November 20th, 2013

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.

by on November 15th, 2013

The French philosopher Montesquieu’s principle of moderation taught the founders to reconcile Lockean liberalism, classical republicanism, and Christianity—a balance we could use today.

by on November 8th, 2013

Conservatives need to refine their understanding and presentation of the moral substance of their cause, crafting a message that appeals to both reason and imagination.

by on November 5th, 2013

Just as an engineer can work out the purpose of a machine by examining its structure, reason can discover the proper end of human action by examining human nature. Yet there is also a supernatural morality that subsumes and exceeds natural moral standards.

by on October 22nd, 2013

We don’t need to know that God exists to know good from bad. It is enough to know human nature—what kind of being we are and what kind of actions will bring us to fullness of being.

by on October 21st, 2013

We have the worst of both worlds: a Prohibitionary State that gives license to all kinds of evil, but that regulates and restricts actions that are not evil, to manage the chaos that results from the license.

by on October 7th, 2013

Law cannot replace a nation’s customs, manners, and traditions. Rather, it should strengthen them by corroborating and invigorating the ways of a people.

by on October 2nd, 2013

David L. Tubbs’ criticism of pragmatic liberalism reveals that he misunderstands both the necessary complexity of constitutional law and its relation to civil society.

by on September 27th, 2013

We can only define ourselves authentically in terms of, in Charles Taylor’s words, a “backdrop of things that matter”—a set of values that transcend our arbitrary choices. The second of a two-part series.

by on September 26th, 2013

Our current jargon of “authenticity” is an affront to political friendship—it demands that others always capitulate to our claims, and makes not doing so tantamount to harm. The first of a two-part series.

by on September 23rd, 2013

Is it wrong to study the natural sciences using a metaphysical framework that sees unity in reality?

by on September 19th, 2013

Robert Miller’s pragmatic liberalism fails to strike a satisfactory balance between Aristotelian-Thomistic eudaimonism and American liberalism because he does not defend the universality of moral principles.

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 12th, 2013

The late Jean Bethke Elshtain understood that human beings are inherently relational, arguing that families are essential for human flourishing.

by on August 20th, 2013

Our right to religious freedom is best grounded in the universal duty to seek ultimate truth, and not in human autonomy.

by on August 13th, 2013

To resist the manipulative forces of political correctness, we must speak out and overcome the social isolation that breeds silence.

by on August 8th, 2013

Private, not public, law enables healthy dependencies by carving out space for communities of people to deliberate together about what to do with the resources available to them.

by on August 7th, 2013

Entitlement reform cannot succeed by eliminating dependence. Instead we should aim to promote healthy dependencies.

by on August 1st, 2013

The layman’s understanding of the world can’t be considered mere guesswork—it’s the necessary starting point for understanding reality.

by on July 31st, 2013

While evolutionary theory shows us that we can’t divide living things into stable, distinct species, this doesn’t mean that it imperils the foundations of knowledge.

by on July 30th, 2013

Lincoln’s Order of Retaliation—a command to kill Confederate prisoners as punishment for the South’s massacre of black Union soldiers—can help frame our view of presidential military power today.

by on July 26th, 2013

Since our culture has embraced Justice Kennedy’s “mystery of life” philosophy, we lack a coherent framework for making laws that don’t just cater to personal preferences.

by on June 26th, 2013

Thinking presupposes a functioning brain, but it cannot be reduced to the brain.

by on June 12th, 2013

Darwin rejected a theory of knowledge that best accords with the common experience of the expert and the layman: a process of induction or intuition whereby sense impressions become memories, and memories become experience.

by on June 11th, 2013

The “eye test” is no more a problem for the evolutionary origin of species than it is for the atomic structure of matter or for the motion of the earth.

by on June 10th, 2013

Darwin’s evolutionary theory doesn’t ask us to “overlook” how we usually “behold the face of nature,” but instead asks us to consider more carefully what we do see.

by on May 29th, 2013

Darwin’s evolutionary theory rests on a problematic premise: Our senses don’t tell us the truth about nature.

by on May 22nd, 2013

Aristotelian-Thomistic moral philosophy doesn’t imply that every economy should be capitalist.

by on May 17th, 2013

Is the fundamental and essential point of forming the polity the polity itself, or is the polity primarily a means of protecting and achieving many other valuable ends?

by on May 16th, 2013

Our arguments for limited government should recognize political community as an intrinsic good, not mistake it for a merely instrumental one.

Featured


by Ryan T. Anderson on October 13th, 2008
An introductory letter from the founder and editor of Public Discourse.
by Mark Regnerus on December 20th, 2012
Young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and fairness. It may be, in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.
by Ryan T. Anderson on December 18th, 2012
How successful can a “new conversation on marriage” be when its leaders can’t even say what marriage is?
by Sherif Girgis on February 15th, 2013
Marriage as a human good, not marriage law, has an objective core whose norms the state has an interest in tracking and supporting—in a way that respects everyone’s freedom.
by Robert Oscar Lopez on February 11th, 2013
Whatever same-sex marriage is, that’s not what gays are after. They are after a symbolic vehicle that can make them equal to people who can do something they cannot—procreate.
by Patrick Fagan on February 6th, 2013
Family, church, and school are the three basic people-forming institutions, and it is no wonder that they produce the best results—including economic and political ones—when they cooperate.

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