Author: Robert T. Miller (Robert T. Miller)

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Moral Standards and Legal Enforcement: The Debate on Free Speech, Continued

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.

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Loose Talk on Free Speech

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.

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On Integralism, Religious Liberty, and the Authority of the Church: 19th Century Popes and 20th Century Popes Disagreed

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.

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Integralism and Catholic Doctrine

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.

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The Mortara Case and the Limits of State Power: First Things Should Disavow Fr. Cessario’s Defense of Pius IX in the Mortara Case

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.

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Resisting the Fortress of Solitude: What’s Wrong with First Things’ Anxious Anti-Capitalism

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.

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The Shopkeeper’s Dilemma and Cooperation with Evil

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.

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What Reason Can Know and What Government Should Legislate: A Rejoinder to Arkes

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.

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Professor Arkes and the Law

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.

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