Thursday, August 19, 2010

Welcome LifeSiteNews readers

I was recently interviewed by about Judge Walker’s ruling on Proposition 8. In the interview I summarize points made at greater length in my recent post on the ruling, and readers coming to this blog from the interview may find that post of interest. Perhaps they’ll find other items of interest if they browse through the blog and its archives – my recent post on Bart Stupak and the health care bill is one example, given the sorts of issues typically covered by LifeSiteNews.

For those in whom the interview may have piqued an interest in natural law theory, I might note (if you'll forgive the shameless plug) that I provide an exposition of it in chapter 5 of my recent book Aquinas. An exposition of the natural law approach to traditional sexual morality in particular can be found in chapter 4 of my book The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism. Both books also contain detailed exposition and defense of the traditional arguments for God’s existence associated with Thomas Aquinas, and of Scholastic philosophy more generally.


  1. As a closet Austrian economist I sympathised with your argument that one cannot legislate whatever consenting people wish to be so. (Fractional reserve banking is not legal in the sense that there are multiple claims on the same asset...this is not a priori possible in the natural rights theory of property).
    Your interview made me realise a lack of clarity in my understanding between ethics and morality.
    To my (philosophically untrained) mind an act of abortion is unethical and immoral but an act of homosexuality is immoral. If unethical it would be subject to some legal response which it is not.
    I am reading Aquinas but so far not come across ethical vs moral , help?

  2. I’m glad you made mention of your “detailed exposition and defense of the traditional arguments for God’s existence associated with Thomas Aquinas, and of Scholastic philosophy more generally” in Chapter 4 of your book The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism. I’d be glad a second time if you were to offer your reply to the pointed critique of those arguments that Paul Edwards leveled in his famous, or infamous, article, “A Critique of the Cosmological Argument.” That critique, of course, is directed at Aquinas’s thesis that an infinite series of causes is impossible. As I said in a July 5th post, “A Non-Evident and Key Premise of Aquinas’s ‘First Way’,” on my own blog, Gnosis and Noesis, I did not see a reply to that critique in your treatment of the argument in The Last Superstition.

  3. Wouldn't infinite causes be Spinoza's God?

  4. Jonathan,

    I take it that what you are wondering about is which areas of morality a Thomistic natural law theorist thinks ought to be enforced legally and which ought not to be, or at least need not be. I say a little about this in my article "Classical natural law theory, property rights, and taxation," which you can find online via Google.

  5. Richard Hennessey,

    Just to be clear (and for the sake of those who haven't read the book), I did not say that that material was in chapter 4, specifically; in fact, it is to be found throughout the book. I also said that an exposition and defense of the themes in question can be found in Aquinas, and indeed I defend the arguments at much greater length and in more detail (and in a more academic and non-polemical style) in that more recent book.

    As to Edwards, while it is true that I didn't mention him by name I took it that what I'd say in reply to criticisms like the ones he makes would have been clear enough from my discussion in TLS. But this deserves a post of its own, so I'll write one up and post it within a couple of days.

  6. I'm looking forward to it. As I said in an early post in Gnosis and Noesis, I both hope that there is a genuine demonstration that God exists and fear that there isn't. And I mean by demonstration what you mean by "metaphysical demonstration," as in The Last Superstition, pp. 125-6, “not probabilistic empirical theorizing. In each case, the premises are obviously true, the conclusion follows necessarily, and thus the conclusion is obviously true as well.”

  7. I posted this interview to Twitter and some of my liberal followers missed the point. One responded that you were right and that conservatives couldn't expect liberals to take conservative views on traditional marriage seriously when people within the movement, like Newt Gingrich, don't seem to take their marriages seriously. Aside from the fact that this follower obviously didn't do a very good job of reading the interview (if he read it at all), it seems that on Twitter and elsewhere liberals (and others, too, I'm sure) don't understand that what is right has nothing to do with what is practiced. Claims of hypocrisy do nothing to refute the metaphysical argument for traditional marriage but they are used extensively, and sometimes solely, as though they cast doubt on the whole conservative moral system. I haven't found an easy way of explaining this to them. (At least not in 140 characters or less.)