Readers get a clear sense of the wide diversity of viewpoints represented among contemporary theorists, and an opportunity to evaluate the arguments and counterarguments exchanged in the current debates between natural law theorists and their critics. George is a renowned political intellectual and legal scholar with expertise in natural law, ethics, morality, and public reason.
No; the general welfare—the common good—requires that government be limited.
You distinguish between government’s primary and subsidiary roles.
These norms equally exclude the sacrificing of the dignity and rights of persons for the sake of some supposed “greater overall good.” How do you respond to those who want to severe the ideas of limited government and moral truth?
It is a profound mistake to suppose that the principle of limited government is (1) rooted in the denial of moral truth or (2) a putative requirement of governments to refrain from acting on the basis of judgments about moral truth. Our commitment to limited government is itself the fruit of moral conviction—conviction ultimately founded on truths that our nation’s founders proclaimed as self-evident: namely “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What’s at the foundation of this proposition?
Are you saying that practical considerations should, or even can, be left out of the argument? In a proper understanding of morality, practical considerations are not “merely” practical. The moral case for the reform of unilateral-divorce laws includes reference to the devastating, poverty-inducing, crime-promoting social consequences of the collapse of a healthy marriage culture and the role of unilateral divorce in contributing to the collapse.
The moral argument for restoring legal protection to the unborn includes reference to the adverse psychological and, in some cases, physical consequences of abortion on many women who undergo the procedure.The usurpation of the just authority of families, religious communities, and other institutions is unjust in principle, often seriously so, and the record of big government in the twentieth century—even when it has not degenerated into vicious totalitarianism—shows that it does little good in the long run and frequently harms those it seeks to help.What is the relationship between limited government and classic liberalism?This volume presents twelve original essays by leading natural law theorists and their critics.The contributors discuss natural law theories of morality, law and legal reasoning, politics, and the rule of law. He is also a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. published an essay entitled “Law and Moral Purpose” (now behind firewall), by Robert P.I thought it’d be worth reprinting part of it below.What are the obligations and purposes of law and government?George, Princeton University’s Mc Cormick Professor of Jurisprudence, and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.A while back I took the essay and choped it up into a multi-part interview format–inserting questions to make the presentation easier to skim, as well as numbers and italics.