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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Law cannot replace a nation’s customs, manners, and traditions. Rather, it should strengthen them by corroborating and invigorating the ways of a people.
David L. Tubbs’ criticism of pragmatic liberalism reveals that he misunderstands both the necessary complexity of constitutional law and its relation to civil society.
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.
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.
Is it wrong to study the natural sciences using a metaphysical framework that sees unity in reality?
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.
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.
The late Jean Bethke Elshtain understood that human beings are inherently relational, arguing that families are essential for human flourishing.
Our right to religious freedom is best grounded in the universal duty to seek ultimate truth, and not in human autonomy.
To resist the manipulative forces of political correctness, we must speak out and overcome the social isolation that breeds silence.
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.
Entitlement reform cannot succeed by eliminating dependence. Instead we should aim to promote healthy dependencies.
The layman’s understanding of the world can’t be considered mere guesswork—it’s the necessary starting point for understanding reality.
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.
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.
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.
Thinking presupposes a functioning brain, but it cannot be reduced to the brain.
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.
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.
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.
Darwin’s evolutionary theory rests on a problematic premise: Our senses don’t tell us the truth about nature.
Aristotelian-Thomistic moral philosophy doesn’t imply that every economy should be capitalist.
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?
Our arguments for limited government should recognize political community as an intrinsic good, not mistake it for a merely instrumental one.
Conservatives need to stop shying away from principled, as opposed to merely utilitarian, defenses of economic freedom and its associated institutions.
Just as our culture’s rejection of an essential human nature wreaked havoc on our moral thought, so too our rejection of the concept of form has made our artwork incoherent.
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.
Children’s relationship to the political community is fundamentally different from that of adults, because it is mediated through their belonging to a family and living under the authority of their parents.
When we define our terms based on the results we want, rather than on the reality of the thing being defined, all hell breaks loose.
We cannot embrace same-sex marriage and live in continuity with our past as a civilization. To embrace it is to deny that tradition, revelation, reason, and nature have any authority over us.
Is religious belief wrong, and are religious believers morally culpable for their false beliefs?
No one wants to return to the 1950s as Betty Friedan characterized them, where women felt blocked from pursuing interests outside the home. At the same time, to insist that stay-at-home moms are trapped, desperate, and unhappy is naïve, insulting, and even damaging to the roots of society.
The Founders’ vision of the “common good” was not the pre-modern natural law conception of an objective human good, but a conception of “mutual advantage” shaped by the social contract framework. This logic of liberalism has driven our country to its current political and cultural problems.
While we should reject misguided claims that our founders adopted political voluntarism, we should follow suggestions for strengthening civic life—and thereby sustain American liberalism—through local government, families, churches, and other civic associations.
To reject the presence of natural law in documents of the Founding era is to embrace both cynicism and romanticism.
Hollywood’s new musical masterpiece illustrates a classical legal philosophy, long lost to our liberal establishment, that serves as a golden mean between tyrannical legalism and libertine antinomianism.
Calvin Coolidge is an exemplar for conservative leaders because he was the very opposite of an ideological dreamer; he saw his vocation as a duty to provide the country that elected him with honest and frugal government that respected limits.
The invention of Rex, a bionic man with artificially created organs, helps us see why it is impossible for any machine to be a human being.
True doctors and abortionists are different kinds of persons because they perform different acts as they carry out different proposals: the one, a proposal to remove a non-viable child to save the mother; the other, to kill that child for the mother’s benefit.
Roger Scruton argues that conservatism is a better home for good environmental policy than liberalism.
In a country where we oscillate between the extremes of realism and pacifism, learning the history of the just war tradition is important. A new book by David Corey and J. Daryl Charles offers us an introduction.
Sneering at persons who are not social constructionists has become commonplace. Until defenders of inherent virtues, natural laws, divine beings, and other things that transcend social reality learn to overcome this initial set-up, they will be forever on the defensive.
Yes, George Bailey destroyed Bedford Falls. Good riddance! The entrepreneur creates new ways of life that restore our moral bearings when old ways of life become—as they do in every age—cynical and dysfunctional.
In the classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the humane society of Bedford Falls is built on conservative principles, not contemporary liberal ones.