Hadley Arkes and Robert Miller go one more round on the moral norms that govern speech and the government’s authority in prohibiting immoral speech.
Author: Robert T. Miller (Robert T. Miller)
There are moral standards applicable to all forms of human behavior, including speech, but neither the existence of such standards nor even our acknowledgement of them entails that government should enforce them. Whether the government should enforce a given standard depends on the likely effects of such enforcement, and the sad history of censorship shows that empowering the government to suppress “immoral” or “offensive” speech is highly susceptible of abuse and results in serious violations of the rights we all have to engage in good speech and hear the good speech of others. Giving this power to government is wrong for the same reason that giving alcohol and automobiles to teenage boys is wrong.
If you really must attack other conservatives, take the time to figure out what they actually said and why, and interpret them charitably, the way you would wish to be interpreted. You owe this even to your enemies, but other conservatives are not your enemies but your friends. After that, have some definite arguments.
How should Catholics understand the contradiction between the nineteenth-century papal teachings on integralism and the twentieth-century teaching of the Second Vatican Council? We follow the solution of John Paul II and Benedict XVI: we take both sets of teachings at face value, admit that they contradict each other, and explain that the earlier teachings were merely doctrina catholica, which are not absolutely binding and are thus subject to future change.
Catholics today are not required to believe in a Catholic confessional state. If anything, they are required to believe that everyone has a right under the natural law to religious freedom, that the state has no authority in religious matters, and that coercion of religious activity by the state is morally wrong. In short, integralism is contrary to Catholic doctrine.
The noble impulse to purge the public square of offensive and insulting language quickly degenerates into censorship of unpopular viewpoints. By contrast, the American experiment is founded on the view that a people capable of governing themselves are worthy of the trust that the First Amendment places in them.
Many people do care—and care a lot—what the editors of First Things think about Christian-Jewish relations, and this time the galloping statism of First Things is doing great damage in the real world. Robert T. Miller calls on R.R. Reno to disavow the position Romanus Cessario takes on the Mortara case and to reaffirm the journal’s historical commitment to the freedom of religion as understood in liberal states.
Leaders should get the facts straight before they start theorizing.
Young people today, especially the ones who are serious about religion and look to the editors of First Things for guidance, must resist the allure of an intellectual Fortress of Solitude where they can sit and feel superior to everyone. Griping about the state of society is a waste of time. Part two of two.
R.R. Reno’s manifesto on capitalism—in which he concludes, among other things, that expanding economic freedom leads to transgenderism—is based on empirically false claims. Part one of a two-part series.
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.
A shopkeeper who objects to sex-same weddings but who nevertheless provides services at such weddings generally acts in a morally permissible way if he acts to comply with a validly-enacted law, to preserve the goodwill of his business, and to make a just profit. Nevertheless, a law that in this way coerces a shopkeeper to cooperate with actions he reasonably believes immoral is gravely unjust.
The existence of objective moral truth that is knowable by reason does not imply that people generally, much less particular public officials, will in fact know and embrace that truth. Very often, they won’t, and that is why systematic limits on government power, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, are good laws.
When the law limits the courts’ power to inquire into the truth or reasonableness of religious views, this is not because the law is assuming that religious beliefs lack rational foundation. Rather, it’s because allowing courts to exercise this power on a large scale would be too dangerous.
A policy that disempowers university officials from prohibiting student events on the basis of the viewpoint they express demonstrates institutional genius.
A low but predictable inflation rate is sound, just policy.
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.
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.
David L. Tubbs’ criticism of pragmatic liberalism reveals that he misunderstands both the necessary complexity of constitutional law and its relation to civil society.
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.
Aristotelian-Thomistic moral philosophy doesn’t imply that every economy should be capitalist.
The legal institutions of a democratic and capitalist society are designed not to give people what is good and prevent them from getting what is bad; they are designed to give people what they want and not give them what they don’t want.
The fundamental problem with the mandate is that it coerces some people into doing what they think is wrong, and this problem remains regardless of whether the coercion excuses the actions of the people being coerced.
A eudaimonistic ethical theory can show, without appeal to God, that certain actions are always wrong.
Divine legislation functions to enforce moral absolutes, not to ground them.