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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.