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John Locke is an illustration of how social contract theory distorts sound political reasoning.
John Locke’s philosophy gives no support to those who would seek to endorse same-sex civil marriage.
Moore’s book reveals the precarious slope on which life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness rest: there needs to be a firm belief that a better life tomorrow is within our reach. If we lack that belief, the backsliding into mundane conformity and the demand for a government of autocratic direction can easily undo all that the past few centuries have bequeathed us.
Conservatives are defenders of traditional communities, not atomized individuals fending for themselves. We do not oppose the growth of the federal government merely because it is dangerous to individual liberty, but because the bureaucratization of American society violates our conception of the human good.
In Modern Virtue: Mary Wollstonecraft and a Tradition of Dissent, Emily Dumler-Winckler looks beyond the moderns to show Wollstonecraft’s kinship with ancient and medieval thinkers, especially Aristotle and Aquinas. It’s in the rich Christian tradition especially that Wollstonecraft finds the dynamic resources to treat her “modern” subjects (abolition and women’s education, in particular).
The modern story of “argument” might seem troubling to many. Debate too often seems emotion-driven, and laden with fallacies and quarrelsome noise. By exploring the significance of argument for both individuals and society, Lee Siegel’s Why Argument Matters reminds us why to be human is to argue—and why that is something to celebrate.
An ethic of stewardship induces a person to acquire and care for property, and the ownership of property helps to stimulate an ethic of stewardship. When both are present and healthy, the formation of intergenerational wealth—in the form of intergenerational property—will naturally emerge.
By making the false ideal of independence the basis of our political and social order, we end up denigrating actual, dependent human lives. But life begins in dependence and remains inseparable from unchosen obligations. We have responsibilities to others, for which we have not signed a contract.
In Religious Liberty and the American Founding, Phillip Muñoz believes that there is a kind of natural rights logic that leads to his minimalist version of religious freedom. His central premise is that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the “natural rights” logic that was prevalent in the Founding period; and he tries to follow this logic to its conclusions, come hell or high water.
The arguments of Yoram Hazony’s Conservatism: A Rediscovery reveal both the value and the difficulty of applying a Burkean approach to human social life in a modern, non-Burkean society like our own. Part two of a two-part review.
Yoram Hazony’s Conservatism: A Rediscovery offers a valuable new take on non-Lockean political theory, grounded in the Biblical tradition and relevant to our current affairs. Part one of a two-part review.
Peter Augustine Lawler was a rich, dialectical, and irenic thinker who strove to prevent fruitful tensions from transforming into dangerously implacable oppositions. His wisdom was attuned to the needs of the late modern age. It has been nearly five years since his unexpected death at the age of sixty-five, and his wisdom remains just as needed now as it’s ever been.
Genuine postmodernism—a real reflection on the failure of the modern project—would be a recovery of the idea that the lives of free and rational beings are really directed by purposes given us by nature and God.
Civility has a distinctly minimal character you don’t see with virtues like decorum or politeness—the idea that one can be merely civil. This means that to be civil is to meet a low bar grudgingly, and it is important for any adequate definition of civility to account for that minimal sense.
Catholics in colonial America pioneered a vision of liberty of conscience grounded in human dignity that would eventually be affirmed as doctrine by the second Vatican Council. A new book by Michael Breidenbach illustrates how unsettled the issue of papal temporal authority was in the founding era, and how damaging papal insistence on it was to the survival of Catholic minorities in English and colonial life.
Catholic tradition has never considered the relationship between the principle of universal destination of goods and the right to private property as one between a “primary” and a “secondary” right. The former does not formulate a right at all, but only a fundamental principle from which the right to private property receives its ultimate justification.
Religious freedom is not a get-out-of-jail-free card that lets us evade whatever laws we dislike. Nowhere does the Bible hint that we have the individual authority to examine all laws, determine which are good and which are not, and select, à la carte, which are binding and which are not.
To those who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence, political liberty and natural law went together: Nature summons man, individually and collectively, to self-government and guides him in the exercise of his power of choice.
Natural law thinking profoundly shaped the way American and British leaders approached issues involving rights, sovereignty, and constitutional government. However, the imperial authorities and their colonial opponents often appealed to different, and even conflicting, strains of the natural law tradition.
Andrew Walker’s new book provides biblical-theological resources for navigating an increasingly anti-Christian culture in the West, especially the United States. Baptists have been here before, prior to the Act of Toleration in England and the First Amendment to the US Constitution. They flourished in the midst of hostility as a countercultural force for the common good. We can too.
Every “no” to the state in the name of religious conscience is predicated on a greater “yes” to a power higher than the state.
Resist the temptation to outsource your thinking to a team or a party. Rooting for a team is appropriate in sports, and partisan politics may be a necessity of a political system like ours, but both are detrimental to the intellectual process. Catholics should not think of discussions about the Church’s relationship to American liberalism as a Battle Royal between competing camps—but as a conversation among friends seeking the truth in community. Adapted from the introductory remarks delivered on April 15, 2021 at the University of Dallas’s conference on America, Liberalism, and Catholicism.
Whatever your raw intelligence, whatever your background, what you have control over, and therefore what you should focus on, is your actions. The cure for impostor syndrome is to do what intellectuals do, and you’ll become an intellectual.
In many ways, Abraham Lincoln has almost loomed entirely too largely in our national consciousness, since it has now become difficult to get around the acknowledgment of his greatness to discover just what it was that made him great. Jon Schaff’s new book is an attempt to do just that.