Saturday, June 29, 2024

Hobbes and Kant on capital punishment

Thomas Hobbes and Immanuel Kant both had an enormous formative influence on modern moral and political philosophy, and on liberalism in particular.  But their approaches are very different.  Hobbes begins with what strikes the average reader as a base and depressing conception of what individual human beings are like in their natural state, and sees society arising out of an act of cold, calculating self-interest.  Kant, by contrast, seems committed to a lofty and inspiring conception of human beings, and regards society as grounded in a respect for the dignity of persons.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Immortal Souls in eBook format

The paperback version of my new book Immortal Souls: A Treatise on Human Nature sold out on Amazon within a day of being listed there.  No word on when it will be back in stock, but I imagine it will be soon.  Meanwhile, the eBook version is available through Barnes and Noble.  You can also order either version through the publisher’s website or through Amazon’s websites in the U.K. and Germany.

UPDATE: The book is back in stock at Amazon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Scruton on tradition

Roger Scruton’s essay “Rousseau and the Origins of Liberalism” first appeared in The New Criterion in 1998, and was reprinted in The Betrayal of Liberalism, edited by Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball.  Among the many good things in it, there is an important expression and defense of the conservative understanding of tradition.  Scruton writes:

Modern liberals tend to scoff at the idea of tradition.  All traditions, they tell us, are “invented,” implying that they can therefore be replaced with impunity.  This idea is plausible only if you take the trivial examples – Scottish country dancing, Highland dress, the Coronation ceremony, Christmas cards, and whatever else comes with a “heritage” label.  A real tradition is not an invention; it is the unintended byproduct of invention, which also makes invention possible… [A] tradition, precisely because it is not invented, has authority.  “Unintended byproducts” of invention contain more knowledge than any person can discover unaided.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Immortal Souls now available for pre-order

My new book Immortal Souls: A Treatise on Human Nature is now available for pre-order in the U.S. at  Here again are the back cover copy, endorsements, and table of contents:

Immortal Souls provides as ambitious and complete a defense of Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophical anthropology as is currently in print.  Among the many topics covered are the reality and unity of the self, the immateriality of the intellect, the freedom of the will, the immortality of the soul, the critique of artificial intelligence, and the refutation of both Cartesian and materialist conceptions of human nature.  Along the way, the main rival positions in contemporary philosophy and science are thoroughly engaged with and rebutted.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Postliberalism is not despotism

In a new article at Postliberal Order, I explain why, contrary to a common straw man, postliberalism does not entail despotism.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Multiverses and falsifiability

Adam Becker’s 2018 book What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics is an excellent account of the longstanding and intractable controversy over how to interpret quantum mechanics.  One of the main themes of the book is how much the direction of twentieth-century physics was driven by personalities, political factors, career interests, and, not least, unexamined and woolly philosophical assumptions – something philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend have shown has always been true of science historically.  The tendency of contemporary physicists, especially, to be both ignorant of and condescending toward philosophy comes in for special criticism.