From its ancient Stoic origins to its modern Kantian formulations, human dignity is an important concept for sound ethical thinking. We must distinguish dignity as attributed, dignity as intrinsic worth, and dignity as flourishing.
The conjugal conception of marriage is just and coherent; the same-sex marriage proponents’ conception of marriage is unjust and incoherent.
A successful account of social justice must affirm the primacy of communities, and institutions directed by communities, over both the individual and the state in promoting human flourishing.
A eudaimonistic ethical theory can show, without appeal to God, that certain actions are always wrong.
In order to win, do Republicans really need to stop talking about abortion and marriage?
While some people resent the imperfection, the inconvenience, and the expense of persons with disabilities, others see in them an invitation to learn how to love deeply without counting the cost. God will demand an accounting. Adapted from remarks delivered at the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life.
39 years ago, the Supreme Court delivered a radical, legally untenable, immoral decision. It has forfeited its entitlement to have its decisions respected, and followed, by the other branches of government, by the states, and by the people.
The Obama administration’s efforts to regulate the cellular-phone service market through a decades-old trust-busting ideology is at odds with the courts’ more recent “new learning” approach to market competition. And there are lessons here for pro-lifers.
Poetry establishes the polis, the ordered community, because poetry teaches men their “actual desires,” the desires that must be accommodated in any lasting and beneficial order. The second in a two-part series.
Modernist poetry embodies the philosophical perspective of late liberal Western society, giving form to the conception of freedom divorced from essence, the theoretical primacy of the individual, and the broad skepticism towards any notion of a rational human nature. The first in a two-part series.
The construction of an ethical theory, as a general matter, inevitably implicates philosophical theology.
Martin Luther King, Jr., espoused a worldview repugnant to many of those who now claim his legacy.
In a recent decision, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment provides additional and independent rights to religious organizations, beyond those to which non-religious groups are entitled.
The Obama Administration’s campaign against “bullying” and “harassment” in schools is a subterfuge to exert federal control over the minutiae of daily school operations and to impose its preferred cultural attitudes.
Aiding the deliberate destruction of human life has no place in the doctor’s job description.
Senior citizens are less likely to support same-sex marriage than younger Americans, but that does not mean that they are anti-gay.
Threats to religious freedom endanger the health of religious institutions, enfeebling rather than enlivening the moral content of our culture—a content that we all, believers and non-believers alike, rely upon to exercise our freedom.
Economic, political, and ethical principles that encourage limited government must interact in our effort to secure long-term economic stability.
Those who oppose judicial supremacy follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln himself.
A new biography of Margaret Sanger fails to confront the Planned Parenthood founder’s ideological commitment to eugenics and population control.
On August 2, 2018, Pope Francis announced an update to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, making a prohibition on the death penalty official Catholic teaching. Prior to this change, many scholars believed that the historic teaching of the Church did not declare capital punishment intrinsically immoral, even if the practice is, as a matter of prudence, not required in countries with modern prison systems that can safely isolate dangerous criminals. Other scholars argued that the natural law duty to respect all human life does in fact render any intentional taking of human life morally unacceptable, and that this development of doctrine does not contradict any infallible teaching. The articles below lay out this debate, with clear summaries of the arguments on both sides.
Intentional killing is always wrong, and support of capital punishment often stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of human dignity.
If one accepts the legitimacy of punishment and the principle of proportionality, then it is impossible to claim that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong.
Nothing that a man does can change his nature as man, and so, considered in himself, it will always remain wrong to kill him. This should be the final judgment of practical reason when brought to bear on the question of capital punishment.
While not explicitly denying the principle of proportionality, Tollefsen implicitly rejects it, leaving his argument not only counterintuitive but incoherent.
The presumptive starting point in the natural law and, more specifically, Christian tradition is one of absolute opposition to intentional killing of beings created in the image of God, for which exceptions must be earned; but the traditional justifications for such exceptions fail.
Edward Feser and Joseph M. Bessette’s new book asserts that Catholics cannot legitimately reject the death penalty as wrong always and everywhere. They are wrong. Part one of a two-part essay.
Four conditions must be met for a teaching of the Catholic Church to be considered infallible. Acceptance of the death penalty meets none of them. St. John Paul II laid down theoretical markers that provide a clear basis for a Catholic teaching rejecting the death penalty in principle. Part two of a two-part essay.
Arguments against the death penalty can be made not only on the basis of theology but also on the basis of natural law philosophy. The first in a two-part series.
There is a genuine tension, not just in Aquinas but in Church teaching more generally, between claims about the intrinsic goodness, sanctity, and inviolability of human life, and claims about political authority to kill. The second in a two-part series.
E. Christian Brugger is wrong: neither scripture nor tradition could justify a reversal of the Church’s millennia-old teaching on capital punishment
If E. Christian Brugger is right, then the Church has been teaching grave moral error and badly misunderstanding scripture for two millennia. Nothing less than her very credibility is at stake.
Aquinas taught the principle that a punishment ought to be proportionate to the offense, where death is a proportionate punishment for the gravest crimes.
It’s three times more likely that you’ll die of lightning than that Aquinas will turn out to be wrong about something. The same cannot be said of New Natural Law philosophy.
Reason operating without error judges that no human being should ever intend the death of another human being for any reason whatsoever. No achievable good can justify such a choice. And that is the foundation for the case against the death penalty.