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Archives: Featured

Featured

Effective Altruism’s Utilitarian Problem

There’s a lot to commend about EA. It endorses good stewardship of resources; it recognizes the dignity of every human being; and it pushes back against the kind of presentism that disregards generations to come. But some iterations of EA should give us pause. Its core defect is its tie to utilitarianism, which is ultimately untenable as a philosophy.

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Governed, Not Ruled: The Need for School Choice

In a republic such as ours, the people grant certain prerogatives to the state, for the government exists by the consent of the people. The people do not beg for privileges and rights from the state. Parents have by nature, by justice, the right to educate their children. The state does not have a similar right to educate children; instead, parents permit the state to educate children.

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The Victims of Wicked Lies

It is not only fraudulent physicians and deluded therapists at fault for mutilating our children—they too are victims, in part. They also have been deceived, subject to the disintegration and dissolution of reality entrenched in our moment. Too many people are not flourishing in our society, and they are damaged and being damaged with false visions of emancipation.

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Money Matters

The state of the economy is on everyone’s mind. As you check (or avoid checking) your retirement account, the Public Discourse archives provide some excellent resources to consider the big picture of economic issues.

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The Meaning of Home

Our culture tends to conceive of the home in material terms, and the process of moving generates an endless list of practical questions. But it’s worth challenging this reductive view and reflecting more deeply on the nature and purpose of home, because home is where our life unfolds. Home is where we learn how to be ourselves and how to relate to others, prior to approaching big questions about politics and law, business and economics, or war and peace.

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Three Tasks After Roe

If Roe falls, there will be difficult legal and political struggles, but three other areas will demand our thought, effort, and perseverance—engaging with those on the other side of the argument, developing pro-family policy, and protecting parental rights. In this Featured Collection from the Public Discourse archives, we revisit some excellent articles on these themes.

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Moms and Community

As we look forward to celebrating all the moms we know and love on Mother’s Day, it’s also worth remembering that motherhood doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While the bond between mother and child is unique, there are webs of other human relationships upon which moms depend—fathers most importantly, but also extended friends, family, employers, faith communities, and even political bodies.

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Notes on Hope

As spring settles in, with ball games and tulips and dogwoods in bloom, it pays to turn off the news, to ignore the blather and chatter and anger. We should remember that we conservatives are deeply at home in the goodness of the world. There is a season for everything, including a season of hopefulness for life and its promise.

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Wars and Justice

Like all human things, war ought to be ordered by law and moral norms. In these selections from the Public Discourse archives, we see neither arguments for or against war, nor policy prescriptions on options for Ukraine, but first principles are never irrelevant.

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Supreme Court Nominations: A Primer to President Biden

Public Discourse has hosted arguments about the Court since the publication’s inception. Here, from our archives, are some essays which remain timely, and which might provide some needed perspective on the role of the Court, originalism, and the role of morality and natural law in the Court.

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Sterilizing Hope

We’ve thought about children quite a bit at Public Discourse, and in this Featured Collection recall previous essays on the theme. No one here pretends that having children is easy, or inexpensive, or endless bliss. Yet, we also know that marriage and having children ought not be quickly rejected.

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Justice, Dignity, and Alasdair MacIntyre

It’s not enough, according to MacIntyre’s recent Notre Dame lecture, to argue for the dignity of the unborn as a property they possess if the economic and social conditions of our society make it difficult for them to maintain their dignity after they’re born. In this Featured Collection, I trust you’ll find some helpful commentary on issues which must be pondered if one wishes to understand MacIntyre’s argument.

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Freedom and the Human Person

I’ve spent some time this summer driving through parts of the American West. Even though I grew up in the West, I’ve lived on the East Coast long enough to be startled anew at the open space, big skies, and sheer enormity of it all—the mountains are big, the canyons deep, the rivers fast. More...

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Pity, Piety, and Patriotic Love for Our Imperfect Nation

The Fourth of July will soon be upon us, with its rites of fireworks, cookouts, and disagreement about the meaning and legacy of America. The American story requires an asterisk, some say, given its many injustices—or such is the current mood and impulse. Even if one is not inclined to accept a story of America’s...

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Contending for the Poor

We all, each and every one, need help navigating the complexities of life. We are all vulnerable and poor. We all need a decent society with decent laws and decent religion. We’re contending for such decency, and not for ourselves alone.

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Work, Sex, and Babies

Marriage is not always easy, and children can be exhausting. Yet it turns out that human happiness is found only in the gift of self. Work can be a generous gift of oneself, of course, but for many the flight from marriage and children into workism results not in the finding of self but in its loss.

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Conserving and Creating: Why We Need Institutions

In 2021, Public Discourse intends to examine our need for institutions and possible ways to renew and rethink them. While readers can expect to see this theme recur throughout the year, we have in the last month, and particularly in the last week, launched this theme in a series of excellent essays. They’re worth the time to read and carefully consider.

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Facing Tomorrow’s Biggest Challenges

The authors and editors at PD don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but we think we know something about which questions we need to raise, and who we should ask to address them. As more and more about America and conservatism seem up for debate, expect PD to continue to provide a path forward.

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2020: A Year for Quiet Hope

During this difficult year, Public Discourse authors have called us to hold on to hope, even when those around us succumb to despair.

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Voting at Public Discourse

Americans are just a month away from choosing our next president. Voting is a great responsibility, and we at Public Discourse seek to inform readers with a variety of viewpoints and arguments all coming from thinkers who share our basic moral commitments.

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The Vocation of Education at Public Discourse

As Americans head back to school—or try homeschooling for the first time—it is worth recalling several Public Discourse essays on the nature and purpose of education, along with advice for all of those engaged in this important vocation.

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Debating Liberalism at Public Discourse

Patrick Deneen’s provocative 2018 book Why Liberalism Failed deepened and brought to a focal point a long-running debate among American conservatives. No, not about why FDR-LBJ-Obama-style liberalism had failed—on that American conservatives agreed. The long-running debate was over classical liberalism, the sort associated with John Locke. The questions were first, how much this tradition of...