Experience Explained

From the February 2015 Print Edition

True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World?
by david skeel
intervarsity, 176 pages, $12
Evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins and experimental psychologists like Steven Pinker have gained immense cultural influence arguing for an atheistic, materialist worldview. Their influence derives not only from their arguments but from their undoubted scholarly achievements within their areas of academic expertise. It is imperative for Christians not only to answer these intelligent and learned voices in the public square but also to be seen by the world as answering them with equal sophistication. David Skeel—an internationally recognized legal scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and an elder at the theologically conservative Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia—has done just this, arguing that Christianity offers a more plausible account of human experience than does atheistic materialism. Continue Reading »

Dogmatic Philosophy

From the February 2014 Print Edition

Religion Without God
by ronald dworkin
harvard, 192 pages, $17.95When he died last February, Ronald Dworkin had been a towering figure in legal philosophy for more than forty years. His most important work was Law’s Empire, in which he argued that in interpreting the law we are necessarily inquiring into what the law ought to be, with the correct interpretation being the one that makes the law best from a moral point of view.His understanding was thus diametrically opposed to the positivist view that it is one thing to say what the law is, quite another to say what it should be. I thought ­Dworkin was mistaken about this. In my view, interpreting legal texts, whether the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 or the United States Constitution of 1787, is no more a moral inquiry than interpreting the works of Plato or, for that matter, those of Hitler. But ­Dworkin’s influence in the philo­sophy of law was immense, and his arguments were always challenging. On particular legal issues he often provided some of the most sophisticated arguments for the invariably liberal positions he defended.Religion Without God is Dworkin’s last book, and the text is based on his Einstein Lectures at the University of Bern in 2011. Dworkin fell ill before revising the lectures for publication, however, and this may account for the book’s extreme brevity: This is a tiny volume of less than thirty thousand words. Continue Reading »

Response to Reno

From Web Exclusives

Last week in this space R. R. Reno set out to challenge the foundational beliefs of economic conservatives. They must, he said, come to grasp what the postmodern left already sees: that current economic and regulatory conditions are such that market forces and the creative destruction inherent in capitalist economies will produce significant economic inequality as well as serious hardships … Continue Reading »

Taranto on the Politics of Abortion

From First Thoughts

The irreplaceable James Taranto devotes his Best of the Web Today column to a wide-ranging and highly illuminating discussion of the politics of abortion in the United States. Taranto is not quite fully pro-life, but he is very close, and his piece is one of the best analyses you’ll ever read . . . . Continue Reading »

Eudaimonia in America

From the April 2013 Print Edition

America is under attack in the pages of First Things . In a recent article Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen tells us that America is founded on a philosophy of “unsustainable liberalism.” Implicit in the ideas of the American founding, he argues, are certain mistaken philosophical . . . . Continue Reading »

Berry, Berry Quite Contrary

From First Thoughts

Christopher Roberts, amplifying in a blog post on his fine article on Wendell Berry’s reversal on same-sex marriage, quotes Berry as saying of contemporary Americans that “we are talking about a populace in which nearly everybody is needy, greedy, envious, angry and alone.” This, of . . . . Continue Reading »

Thinking Clearly About Drones

From Web Exclusives

Writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, Robert H. Latiff, a retired Major General in the United States Army now teaching at Notre Dame University, and Patrick J. McCloskey, who teaches at Loyola University in Chicago, take up the troubling question of military drones that, in the near future, will be able to deploy lethal force without direct human control… . Continue Reading »

From the April First Things: “Eudaimonia in America”

From Web Exclusives

America is under attack in the pages of First Things. In a recent article Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen tells us that America is founded on a philosophy of “unsustainable liberalism.” Implicit in the ideas of the American founding, he argues, are certain mistaken philosophical premises about individual choice and man’s separation from nature. Moreover, these mistakes are not merely intellectual because, as their logical consequences play out over time, the inexorable results are severe and pervasive social pathologies … Continue Reading »

Thanatopsis for Ronald Dworkin

From Web Exclusives

Ronald Dworkin has died. In Taking Rights Seriously, his first major work, published in 1977, he mounted a powerful assault on the legal positivism of his mentor, H. L. A. Hart. Dworkin would go on to become one of the greatest legal philosophers of the age. The only people in his class were Hart himself and Joseph Raz, and many people think that the greatest of the three was Dworkin… . Continue Reading »