Natural law and the liberal arts: An interview with Robert P. George

Natural morality, American exceptionalism, and race relations

A caution against compatibility: On natural rights and natural law

Judge O’Scannlain on Joseph Story, natural law, and modern confusion

Archbishop Mamberti: The Concept Of Human Rights Was Born In A Christian Context

Masking Totalitarianism | Walter Williams at CNSNews

Conscience is not simply self-will, it is subject to the moral law | Robert George at Public Discourse

Tea Party Catholic: Connecting Religious Liberty and Economic Freedom | Acton Institute

Southern Baptist Leaders: Criteria for ‘just war’ not met

No City of Man Without the City of God | Alan Sears at Townhall

Grounding Our Right to Religious Freedom | Joshua Schulz at Public Discourse

The Declaration of Independence and the American Creed

Same-sex marriage decisions beg question, should America’s new motto be ‘in polls we trust’? | Cal Thomas at Fox News

“Ryan Anderson’s uphill fight to change young minds on gay marriage” | Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Washington Post

Natural Law and the Economy: A Reply to Miller | Samuel Gregg at Public Discourse

The Common Good: Instrumental But Not Just Contractual | Robert P. George at Public Discourse

Man the Political Animal: On the Intrinsic Goodness of Political Community | Michael W. Hannon at Public Discourse

Gosnell, Law, and Modest First Steps | Christopher O. Tollefsen at Public Discourse

Miami Archbishop: ‘Gay Marriage,’ Moral Relativism – Society ‘On Its Way To Totalitarianism’

Wendell Berry’s Marriage Reversal | Christopher C. Roberts at First Things

Our First Right: Religious Liberty | Charles J. Chaput at Public Discourse

In Defense of Marriage – Natural Law Arguments are Not Enough

Natural Law Liberalism Beyond Romanticism

Natural Law And Secular Enlightenment Morality

    Pascal Emmanuel Gobry at The American Scene: But of course, as any freshman philosophy student can tell, the problem comes when you try to ground those universal human rights. Where do they come from? Who confers them? Why should they be respected? There’s basically only two ways to do so, one theistic and one non-theistic. Universal human rights are perfectly grounded if they come from God, as the Declaration of Independence asserts and as I believe in my heart of hearts. But not everybody likes that, and it sort of defeats the purpose of creating this secular moral system to begin with. The only other way that I’m aware of to ground the idea of universal human rights is in, wait for it, the natural law.


  • Posted: 02/27/2013
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  • Category: Global: Bench and Bar
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  • Source: theamericanscene.com

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Half Million Tell Scotus: Leave Marriage Alone

Defending God-Given Freedoms | Alan Sears

Is abortion in Christianity a mistranslation of Bible? | Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at Jerusalem Post

“Why the Sexist Marriage Proposal Won’t Go Away” | Amanda Marcotte at Slate

    Amanda Marcotte at Slate: Given the choice between two stereotypes—the passive princess whose charm and beauty brings a man to one knee or an insecure needball who nagged a reluctant man into marriage—women will pick the former every time. In order to change that, we’d have to dramatically restructure our cultural understanding of gender and romance, away from stereotypes of promiscuous men who love only reluctantly and overeager women who just want to put a ring on it.


  • Posted: 12/05/2012
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  • Category: Featured
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  • Source: www.slate.com

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Arkes & Kozinski Debate “Natural Law Should Inform Constitutional Law”

    Volokh Conspiracy (video embedded): The Fifth Annual Rosenkranz Debate was held last Saturday during The Federalist Society’s 2012 National Lawyers Convention. The topic was “Natural Law Should Inform Constitutional Law” although I think the title should have been “Natural Rights Should Inform Constitutional Law” since that was what was actually debated. The advocates were Prof. Hadley P. Arkes (Edward N. Ney Professor in American Institutions, Amherst College) and Judge Alex Kozinski (Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit). It was moderated by Judge Thomas B. Griffith (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit).


  • Posted: 11/21/2012
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: www.volokh.com

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Saving Natural Law From Itself | R.J. Snell at Public Discourse

The 7 Point Argument Against Legalizing Homosexual “Marriage” | Nathan Cherry at Engage Family Minute Blog

    Nathan Cherry at Engage Family Minute Blog: continue to hear people say that our society should just legalize same-sex “marriage” and be done with the whole issue. They reason that allowing homosexuals to marry will not severely alter the lives of others in any significant way so it would be best for everyone to legalize marriage and move forward. But Jennifer Thieme has written an article which expertly sums up the out of control spiral that legalizing same-sex “marriage” would induce . . . .


  • Posted: 10/30/2012
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  • Category: Marriage & Family
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  • Source: engagefamilyminute.com

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Is Religious Freedom A “Natural Right”? | Hadley Arkes at Right Reason

    Hadley Arkes at Right Reason: In short, then, without the moral understanding sustained now mainly by the religious, it would be hard to take seriously the notion that there are natural rights that command our respect because they are grounded in truths about “the human person.” That is the case for religion as a natural right, and the measure of our desperation is that, in the current state of our public life, the bishops find the gravest test of their preparation and learning as they try to explain the matter to their own public in a post-literate age.


  • Posted: 10/25/2012
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  • Category: Religious Liberty
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  • Source: www.right-reason.org

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Obama: the real radical and the fourth transformation | George F. Will

God runs deep: The crux is not just a platform word | Hadley Arkes

    Hadley Arkes at National Review: For it’s not a matter of one word more or less, one or more mentions of God. The real heart of the issue is that most of the people in that hall, in the Democratic convention, really don’t accept the understanding of rights contained in the Declaration of Independence: The Declaration appealed first to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the very ground of our natural rights. The drafters declared that “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal,” and then immediately: that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” George Bush was not embarrassed to insist that these are “God-given rights,” as opposed to rights that we had merely given to ourselves. For if we had given them to ourselves, we could as readily take them back or remove them.


  • Posted: 09/06/2012
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  • Category: Featured

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‘Same-sex marriage’ should not be referred to as marriage

    Michael Skowera at News Tribune: For thousands of years this has been man’s basis for marriage and family. If government, under the laws of man, wishes to extend special benefits to same-sex individuals choosing to live together; that is it’s right under the laws of man. Call it a civil union, a pairing, whatever; just don’t call it something it’s not: a marriage. Through man’s presumptuousness, we believe because man says something, it is always true, that two males or two females can be married the same as one man and one woman. The Laws of Nature (read: God) simply don’t allow it. And as Mr. Olesen stated, “It’s as simple as that.


  • Posted: 08/27/2012
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  • Category: Marriage & Family
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  • Source: newstrib.com

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UN Human Rights Council Scraps Universal Values In Favor Of Special Interests

Cardinal George: If marriage is only about individual civil rights then gov’t is unrestrained

Why Sexual Integrity Isn’t Out-of-Date

Jeremy Waldron: What is Natural Law Like?

Piero Tozzi: Not “rights” Vs. “freedom” – Reclaiming The Universal Declaration From The Left (and Defending It From The Right)

    Piero Tozzi at Turtle Bay and Beyond: A word of caution is in order before adopting the framework and verbiage proposed by McCarthy in its entirety, however, for he throws out the baby with the bathwater, and his characterization of the “utopian” Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 fails to give a rounded appraisal of that landmark document. Moreover, his underlying premise of “freedoms” vs. “rights” is historically both incorrect and unessential to adopt in order to get to where the author wants to lead us. The concept of “rights,” properly understood, was very much part of the Founding Fathers’ vocabulary — as in the “bill of rights” (!!) and “unalienable rights” based on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” The tension is thus not between “rights” and “freedoms,” but rather between “negative rights” and “positive” ones — a tension that is reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


  • Posted: 04/13/2012
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  • Category: ADF in the News
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  • Source: www.turtlebayandbeyond.org

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UN Bodies And The Natural Law

Just War and the Iran Crisis

Catholic Bishops Prez: Our Rights Don’t Depend on Obama

Robert P. George: Pornography, Public Morality, and Constitutional Rights

An Interview with Professor Robert P. George

    ISI’s American Studies Institute: 1) What led you to become a political philosopher? The intellectual experience that changed my life, placing me on the path to becoming a professor and a political philosopher, was reading Plato’s dialogue Gorgias in a political philosophy seminar I took as an undergraduate at Swarthmore. Socrates’s questions to Gorgias and his other interlocutors in the dialogue led me to question my own beliefs and values. They made me think about existential, social, and political questions that I had not before paused to consider. My encounter with the dialogue caused me to see, for the first time, the overriding value of truth and the importance of the pursuit of truth, not merely as a means to other ends, but above all for its own sake.


  • Posted: 09/23/2011
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: faculty.isi.org

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Robert George: “Remarks on Natural Law at Notre Dame: Morality, Rationality, and Natural Law”

Alan E. Sears: Christians Face a ‘Freedom Gap’ in Our Culture

Legal Periodical: Consideration Regarding Natural Law in Common-Law Systems

Walter E. Williams: Legal Obedience

Legal Periodical: What are Moral Absolutes Like?

Book Review: “Exiting a Dead End Road: A GPS for Christians in Public Discourse “

    The University Bookman: Directions Back to the Public Square: About a third of the way through the book is an essay by Piero A. Tozzi, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, wherein the decline of universal rights is demonstrated to help the reader see that—minus an acknowledgement of, and adherence to, universal rights—the losses suffered by the Church must also be suffered by society at large. For instance, Tozzi writes about the “restoration” of ’48: a moment wherein both Europe and the world were emerging from the Nuremburg trials and subsequently reaching for “a universe whose rules were governed by natural law.” There was bald revulsion at what the Nazis had done, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was penned to serve as a restraint on such things in the future. Tozzi is describing a point in time where even the secularists were brought face to face with the heinous outworking of Nietzsche’s “God is dead” paradigm, and even they had to seek a means to constrain behavior by re-asserting universal rights across the board.


  • Posted: 08/15/2011
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  • Category: ADF in the News
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  • Source: www.kirkcenter.org

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Moral Relativism Challenged by Acclaimed Natural Law Scholar

    Christian Newswire: In a new and revised edition of his groundbreaking work, “What We Can’t Not Know”, Professor J. Budziszewski challenges the modern assumption that moral truth is obscure or even unattainable. With clear, logical arguments he rehabilitates the natural law tradition, restoring confidence in a moral code based upon human nature.


  • Posted: 03/17/2011
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  • Category: Miscellaneous
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  • Source: www.christiannewswire.com

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Legal Periodical: In Defense of Minimal, Naive Natural Law

    Michael Young, In Defense of Minimal, Naive Natural Law (December 26, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1731330

    “This paper articulates a defense of a minimal natural law view in two ways. First, it argues that a minimal natural law view – a view which affirms that the law itself is intrinsically valuable, reason-giving, and normative – is compatible with a weak view of legal obligation, and with a sharp distinction between law and morality. Second, this paper argues (albeit indirectly, in a methodological way) for the naive view that the law’s seeming normativity is best explained by the law’s being really normative, in itself and in abstraction from any further circumstance or social facts. The naive view, I argue, is or seems to be our own pre-theoretical view of the law. Yet, the positivist project, as traditionally understood, is committed to denying this intuitive naive view; on the positivist view, the law may really give reasons in some circumstances, but it does not give reasons necessarily, that is, it is not intrinsically reason-giving. This paper argues that the positivist project consequently has a skeptical burden to bear: it must show that all those (including most readers, and including, I suspect, even most positivists) who have some minimal, natural law intuitions are probably confused or mistaken. The positivist has this burden because it is a grounding assumption of the positivist project that the thing to be theorized by a legal philosopher is not any normative thing; unless this assumption is justified, the entire positivist project stands unsupported, and must be dispreferred to the naive view. Addressing the reasons which might be offered for the skeptical conclusion, including the theories and arguments of Joseph Raz and Andrei Marmor, this paper concludes that the positivist burden remains.”


  • Posted: 01/06/2011
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: ssrn.com

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Prof. Donald R. McConnell: Why do many Protestants Christians fail to believe in natural law?

    Donald R. McConnell, Professor of Law at the Trinity Law School of Trinity International University, writing at Trinitarian Don: “One of the strange questions in Christian legal philosophy is why most Protestant Christians no longer believe in the doctrine of natural law – the idea that there is an unwritten identical trans-cultural objective moral standard accessible to all human beings . . . One major reason Protestants tend not to believe in natural law is they think natural law is incompatible with a strong view of the fall . . . A second reason many Protestants do not believe in natural law is kindred to the first: this is the belief man’s reason is fouled by sin and hence does not support moral knowledge . . . The third reason many Protestants do not accept natural law is that they have never heard a proper explanation of it.”


  • Posted: 01/05/2011
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: trinitariandon.blogspot.com

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Video of Rick Santorum and Hadley Arkes at Thomas More College: Natural law and the Catholic statesman in 21st century America

The Ambitions of Natural Law Ethics: A Reply to Arkes

    Matthew O’Brien writes at Public Discourse: “In my review of Hadley Arkes’ book Constitutional Illusions I criticized Arkes’ account of natural law ethics. My main complaint was that Arkes’ aspirations for what natural law ethics could accomplish were unrealistic, and that in particular his argument for grounding morality in “laws of reason” such as the principle of non-contradiction was unsuccessful. Now Professor Arkes has issued a friendly challenge to me in reply: If he is wrong, then what’s the alternative? And in a healthy Socratic spirit, Arkes wants examples. How would I demonstrate the wrongfulness of racial discrimination, for instance, if not by showing that racists necessarily contradict themselves?”


  • Posted: 12/03/2010
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  • Category: Miscellaneous
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  • Source: www.thepublicdiscourse.com

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Hadley Arkes: The particular appeal of universal principles

    Hadley Arkes writes at Public Discourse: “The most serious criticism [Matthew O'Brien offered] dealt with . . . what he sees as a Kantian strain seeking to find the ground of our moral judgments in ‘the laws of reason.’ The anchoring proposition in the laws of reason is of course the law of contradiction, and the test then of any proposition claiming the standing of a necessary truth, a first principle, is that it cannot be contradicted . . . Might MacIntyre or Anscombe, or any of these other writers we both esteem, offer a more satisfying account of natural law—and a sounder judgment in rendering a just decision in these cases? Let’s make sure that this account, or judgment, is not dependent on claims that are merely probabilistic and which may not hold true from one case or place to another. And let’s make sure that it doesn’t depend merely on generalizations about our fellow humans, which may not hold true all the time.”


  • Posted: 12/02/2010
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  • Category: Miscellaneous
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  • Source: www.thepublicdiscourse.com

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The Shock of Recognition: “where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”

Law Review: The Natural Law Challenge to Choice of Law

    Perry Dane, The Natural Law Challenge to Choice of Law (November 17, 2010). THE ROLE OF ETHICS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, Donald Earl Childress III, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1710904

    “Would a jurisdiction supremely confident that some or all of its own municipal law rests on natural law and universal legal truth ever have a good, purely principled, reason to look to ordinary choice of law principles and apply the substantive law of another place in a case involving foreign elements? This essay, a chapter in an upcoming volume on ‘The Role of Ethics in International Law,’ suggests several such reasons, some of them grounded in the natural law tradition itself and in sustained analysis of the relationship between natural law (if such a thing exists) and positive law. The essay also suggests at least a rough analogy between the jurisprudential challenges of choice of law and the theological challenges of interreligious encounter. It ends with a short effort apply the general argument to the specific question of the inter-jurisdictional recognition of same-sex marriages.”


  • Posted: 11/22/2010
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: ssrn.com

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Book review: Constitutional illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law

    Matthew O’Brien reviews Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law (Cambridge University Press) by Hadley Arkes at Public Discourse: “In Constitutional Illusions Arkes revisits in eight chapters a number of the moral, political, and legal problems provoked by American constitutional jurisprudence, which have been the subject of his scholarly and popular writing for nearly fifty years. It is the burden of Arkes’s argument in the book to show that moral reasoning is inescapable—for the average man just as much for the rarified jurist—and to demonstrate the seamless connection between law and morality.”


  • Posted: 11/15/2010
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: www.thepublicdiscourse.com

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The persuasiveness of natural law

    John Creech writing at The Imaginative Conservative: “This past Wednesday night, Dr. Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideas and Institutions at Princeton University, gave the keynote address at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s annual Red Mass . . . According to Dr. George, natural law theory provides a persuasive alternative to other theories because it can explain two features of human action and experience that other theories, such as utilitarianism and biological determinism, not only cannot explain, but dismiss as mere illusions. Natural law can also account for the fact that most of us act ‘as if’ there are morally binding, objective and universal principles of human conduct, even if we do not believe such principles exist.”


  • Posted: 10/29/2010
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: www.imaginativeconservative.org

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Bill Whittle on natural law

Tea Party metaphysics: Economics and first principles

Obama drops “Creator” from Declaration again

What the Left doesn’t understand about America

Charles J. Chaput: Religious liberty as the foundation of human liberty

    Text of remarks Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered during a tri-diocesan catechetical congress in Victoria, British Columbia, on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, 2010: “[John Courtney] Murray saw that religious freedom is humanity’s first and most basic freedom . . . And any attempt to suppress the right of people to worship, preach, teach, practice, organize and peacefully engage society because of their belief in God is an attack on the cornerstone of human dignity . . . Canadian and American Christians often have trouble understanding the brutality of anti-religious repression or serious religious discrimination. It’s not part of our national heritage. But many millions of Christians are now being persecuted or harassed for their faith around the world. We need to pray for them. And we also need to pray for ourselves. Because we’re not as securely free as we might like to think.”


  • Posted: 10/18/2010
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  • Category: Religious Liberty
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  • Source: www.archden.org

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R.J. Snell: Marriage and the law of tradition

Law Review: Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life

    Brennan, Patrick McKinley, Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life (October 1, 2010). TEACHING THE TRADITION: A DISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO THE CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL TRADITION, J. Piderit, M. Morey, eds., Oxford University Press, 2011; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2010-18. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=168605

    The Catholic tradition offers a distinctive account of the nature of human law and political authority. This chapter – written for a volume (to be published by Oxford University Press in 2011) that is intended to state the Catholic position(s) on a range of disciplines, from physics and astronomy to medicine and law – both develops the Catholic account of law and demonstrates its “pay off” at the level of contemporary U.S. constitutional law. The core of the argument is that the definition of human law is not a matter of custom or invention: the very definition of law is provided by what is first in the order of being, viz., the eternal law, in which humans in turn participate through the natural law. The natural law is a real law, not just metaphorically law, and it sets binding terms and conditions of human lawmaking. These include that (1) law is always what the lawgiver intended and promulgated and (2) true laws are always just and thus conducive to the good life human beings. The chapter develops these and other claims through an examination of how Buck v. Bell would be decided if Catholic principles of law were to guide the Court. The chapter shows that the Catholic position entails neither judicial “activism” nor passivism, but a much more nuanced role that is a function of the people’s and their rulers’ indefeasible obligation to make the natural law effective in their living.


  • Posted: 10/13/2010
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: papers.ssrn.com

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Law Review: Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life

    Patrick McKinley Brennan, Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life (October 1, 2010). TEACHING THE TRADITION: A DISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO THE CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL TRADITION, J. Piderit, M. Morey, eds., Oxford University Press, 2011; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2010-18. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1686059

    “The Catholic tradition offers a distinctive account of the nature of human law and political authority. This chapter – written for a volume (to be published by Oxford University Press in 2011) that is intended to state the Catholic position(s) on a range of disciplines, from physics and astronomy to medicine and law – both develops the Catholic account of law and demonstrates its “pay off” at the level of contemporary U.S. constitutional law. The core of the argument is that the definition of human law is not a matter of custom or invention: the very definition of law is provided by what is first in the order of being, viz., the eternal law, in which humans in turn participate through the natural law. The natural law is a real law, not just metaphorically law, and it sets binding terms and conditions of human lawmaking. These include that (1) law is always what the lawgiver intended and promulgated and (2) true laws are always just and thus conducive to the good life human beings. The chapter develops these and other claims through an examination of how Buck v. Bell would be decided if Catholic principles of law were to guide the Court. The chapter shows that the Catholic position entails neither judicial ‘activism’ nor passivism, but a much more nuanced role that is a function of the people’s and their rulers’ indefeasible obligation to make the natural law effective in their living.”


  • Posted: 10/04/2010
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  • Category: Bench & Bar
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  • Source: ssrn.com

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Philosopher: To defeat same-sex “marriage” conservatives must defend traditional sexual morals

David J. Theroux: C. S. Lewis on mere liberty and the evils of statism, part 1