Adopting a gender persona is not given. It is something that is developed in response to one’s given sexual identity, which provides a sort of vocation—not a fully determinate life plan, but a structure nonetheless.
From Dante to Tolkien to Harry Potter fan fiction, mankind has been tempted by the desire to transcend human limitations. This impulse is dangerous, but its dangers are not inexplicable.
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.
Justice Kennedy’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision is anchored in the liberty to “define and express” one’s identity. But this view of man is not as exalted as it seems. According to Kennedy, self-defined man, if he’s unmarried, remains tragically lonely, and without state recognition, might even doubt his own dignity.
It’s not that in misery and suffering human beings grasp at foolish theories that give them some hope. Rather, amidst prosperity, human beings can blind themselves to the reality of the human condition and so never ask the questions that, once asked, cannot be plausibly answered except in theistic terms.
If David Bentley Hart wants his arguments to be persuasive, he should offer a reasoned critique of the actual arguments of his opponents rather than continue to indulge what he admits is an “emotional” aversion to Thomism.
In the old America, there were laws regulating sexual conduct, but freedom of association was largely unimpeded. In the new America, there will be no laws regulating sexual conduct, but freedom of association will be limited in defense of sexual liberation.
Thomists don’t believe that animals go to heaven, but not for the reasons that David Bentley Hart seems to think. Unlike human beings, non-human animals are entirely corporeal creatures—all matter and no spirit.
The ACLU is trying to deprive other organizations of freedoms that it would insist upon for itself. Their work is not a defense of equality—it is an effort to impose a certain view of morality on the country by law.
It is philosophically and theologically defensible for Catholics to believe that the death penalty is intrinsically wrong.
The way that a culture understands the nature of God shapes its conception of man, reason, and society. Though this presents enormous challenges for the Islamic world, it also has significant implications for the sustainability of Western civilization.
A materialist philosophy that denies the reality of immaterial features of the world is an impoverished view of nature, including human nature. In any complete analysis of what it means to be a living thing, souls matter. Without souls, there are no living things.
After decades of efforts to be emancipated from religious influences, the toleration of political liberals is still only an impoverished relative of its classical cousin.
We should make public policy and encourage social norms that reflect the truth about the human person and sexuality, not obfuscate the truth about such matters and sow the seeds of sexual confusion in future generations for years to come.
A new book clearly examines and answers the most important questions surrounding medical law and ethics, especially in the realm of end-of-life issues.
In a new book, Steven Forde offers a compelling portrait of a “non-Lockean” Locke who is neither morally corrosive nor oblivious to the tension between individual rights and the common good and whose philosophy develops in response to the new empirical science that shattered the classical and medieval worldviews.
Dignity, rightly understood, has less to do with autonomy or independence than with intrinsic worth and the ability to flourish.
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.