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Month: June 2022

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Joseph Raz: Philosopher of Freedom

Joseph Raz, the master of analytic philosophy of law who died in London last month, argued that law and policy should reflect a vision of the human good, with the good of personal autonomy—enabling people to be “authors of their own lives”—at its heart. He was a true philosopher, a truth-seeker: he had convictions, but he never sought to immunize them against criticism, nor did he allow himself to fall so deeply in love with his opinions that he valued them above truth itself.

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Maritain for Our Time: Three Responses to Nathaniel Peters

Christians today should participate in efforts to preserve our polity and ensure that our laws, policies, and political actions hew as closely to truth as possible in our time and context. But we need to acknowledge the potential limitations of our time and seek ways to make the case for truth in terms that our fellow citizens might accept. We should also recognize that the society for which are striving is unlikely to be much better than what we have had in America. To the extent we desire more we should seek it in the Church.

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The Magnificence of Dobbs

Dobbs may be the most important, magnificent, rightly decided Supreme Court case of all time. It is restorative of constitutional principle. It upholds the values of representative, democratic self-government, and the rule of law, at the same time that it supports the protection of fundamental human rights. It is literally a matter of life and death. It is potentially transformative of American society, for the better. It is a rare act of judicial courage and principle. In every way, Dobbs is a truly great decision.

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Maritain for Our Time

The past half century has seen the breakdown of institutional Christianity on which Jacques Maritain’s political project relied. Nonetheless, the limits of his thought do not vitiate the valuable insights Maritain offers for Christian politics in the twenty-first century. He reminds us that politics is about how to order our life together, not just creating ideals or defeating our enemies. He teaches us that we can order a society toward the temporal truths of Christianity, but that the temporal power of the state is no substitute for the spiritual power of the faith.

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Why the Arguments about “Bodily Autonomy” and “Forced Birth” Fail to Justify Abortion

Examining the bodily autonomy argument for abortion highlights a crucial pro-life point: abortion is wrong not only because strangers shouldn’t kill each other but also and especially because parents have special obligations to their children, and it isn’t governmental overreach to require parents to fulfill those obligations.

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An Aristotelian Defense of Ownership in the Age of the Sharing Economy

The emergence of the online sharing economy calls to mind the Socratic desire to abolish ownership with the goal of ending competition and discord. But, as Aristotle reminds us, this is a corrosive vision that would exacerbate rather than mitigate conflict, while also preventing the cultivation of key virtues such as generosity, moderation, and political friendship.

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Anthropological Fallacies

Body-self dualism, and its social manifestation in expressive individualism, underlie the rejection of our given human natures. Rather than seeing ourselves as somehow inhabiting bodies that are used as mere instruments, we should see ourselves as incarnate, bodily beings embedded in communities and bound by natural and supernatural laws.

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A Three-Step Program for Originalism

While some legal scholars have criticized the recently leaked draft Dobbs majority opinion on the basis that it is not originalist, they are overlooking two important points—originalism contains a place for stare decisis (i.e., legal precedent) and American constitutional practice is currently an eclectic mix of originalist and nonoriginalist aspects.

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The Bookshelf: Reading While Parenting

Finding time to read is always challenging, particularly within the context of being a new parent. Instead of conventional, and often ineffectual, time management strategies, we might consider some alternative principles to help incorporate reading into our busy lives: ritualistic reading, whimsical reading, and even acknowledging the value of not reading.

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Human Rights, the China Challenge, and American Foreign Policy: A Conversation with Peter Berkowitz

The aim of our Constitution is to secure freedom in America by securing rights. The aim of American foreign policy should be to secure freedom at home, with a view to opportunities and threats abroad. We must always ask: what’s the best mix of military might, economic power, diplomacy, and championing of human rights that enables us to secure freedom at home and maintain a free and open international order?

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Antonio Gramsci’s Long Struggle

It is strange to reflect that someone who died in 1937 at the age of forty-six with no obvious legacy has exerted more cultural influence than most of his successors, but Antonio Gramsci’s “long struggle” of the intellectuals continues to shape our political, educational, and artistic landscape in regrettable ways.

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