A new book examines the philosophical and religious roots of American government. Amid scholarly disagreement, one thing is clear: America is a nation founded upon the truth of human freedom and equality—whether one arrives at this truth by way of Calvin or Locke.
Contrary to popular belief, Leo Strauss was not a conservative, let alone a neoconservative. Yet Strauss and conservatism share an important aim: challenging the dogmatic dismissal of the past as irrelevant to our flourishing in the present.
Instead of simply reacting to modern liberalism’s advances, it’s time for conservatives to consider what their own fundamental transformation of America would look like.
The Abrahamic religions provide a radical interpretation of the importance of speech: it is the primary way in which God reveals himself. Because persons of faith believe that God has spoken, they are called to develop and deepen their capacities for listening. This aspect of free speech is often overlooked when concentrating on laws about what can or cannot be said.
If we want to be coherent when addressing poverty, our concerns can’t be rooted in emotivist or relativistic accounts of who human beings are. They must be founded on recognition of each person’s freedom, rationality, and dignity.
The disappearance of forty-three Mexican students serves as a cautionary tale—and a reminder of the crucial importance of what civic trust we Americans still have.
Parenthood powerfully combats the two greatest dangers to a democracy: selfishness and isolation.
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.
Government funding of education should not be tied to the beliefs of unaccountable academics. Public support for education should empower students and parents, and the choices they make.
The traditional pillars of religion that support a view of God as transcendent Creator remain unshaken by the discoveries of modern science.
Parents have a fundamental right to raise and educate their children as they see fit. Their authority precedes that of the state.
The anti-slavery arguments of American abolitionists demonstrate the way in which Lockean natural rights and Thomistic natural law can be reconciled.
It is impossible to make a political argument without also making a moral claim. Demanding tolerance often functions as a way to evade robust discourse about the merits of one’s principles.
College students, like everyone else, want to be happy. Educators should help them ground this desire for happiness in acts of virtue.
Although we uphold the cultural taboo on incest, we accept something with precisely the same negative effect on integrity, marriage, and family: pornography.
Refusing to make exceptions to absolute moral norms is not unrealistic, imprudent, or inhumane. The purpose of norms is to promote human flourishing and protect what is good
The totalitarian temptation can never be entirely overcome, and there is always a possibility that barbarism will return. Thus, we must ceaselessly strive to pursue love, dignity, and freedom.
Legislators and judges not only can but must gauge the moral justification of every law.
At times, cinema succeeds where philosophy fails. Films like Nebraska show us the importance of honoring our elderly parents and remind us of the unique dignity of every human person.
Edward Feser’s latest book gives readers who are familiar with analytic philosophy an excellent overview of scholastic metaphysics in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas.
Traditional religion, with its reliance on an authoritarian God, its understanding of humans as sinners, and its grounding in particular times and places, provides the only stable foundation for affirming the sanctity of human life and enabling human flourishing in new cosmic situations.
Workers must have the freedom to develop real expertise and to exercise this rational mastery in pursuit of good ends. Only in the pleasures of prudence can we truly realize those excellences of which human beings are capable.
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.
While Adam Seagrave offers a provocative and original reading of Locke, his assumptions about the self and ownership are deeply problematic.
Civility is due not to a person’s opinions, but to the person himself.
To achieve a moral ecology under which the dignity and solidarity of all peoples can thrive, we must take small steps, little by little—yet not lose sight of the goal.
The “why?” we ask of God receives its most persuasive answer in the beauty, the love, and the heroic devotion of human life.
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.
Taking philosophy and theology as the foundation of our knowledge elevates and unifies scientific and humanistic inquiry.
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.
“Science” can tell us when life begins, provided that we already know what to look for. Empirical biology alone cannot tell us what that is. Once we establish a metaphysical account of life, then empirical embryology can tell us whether the relevant conditions are met.
Paradoxically, to speak intelligibly about the matters that concern them, contemporary intellectuals must appreciate the unintelligibility of the world in which those matters take place.
A low but predictable inflation rate is sound, just policy.
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.
“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.
It is ethically permissible to deliberately choose actions that lead to the death of an innocent person—but not to intend his or her death.
Steven Pinker understands the limits of scientific knowledge no better than the fundamentalist understands the limits of biblical knowledge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.