Natural Law and Public Affairs

The Witherspoon Institute
June 25-June 29, 2024

The last several decades have witnessed a revival of natural law theory among English-speaking moral and legal philosophers. This ethical tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas offers a compelling alternative to the Kantian and consequentialist systems that have dominated modern moral philosophy. It also provides powerful rational defenses of moral principles often identified as Judeo-Christian, but common also to many great Muslim, ancient Greek, and Roman thinkers—indeed, principles dominant for centuries throughout the West.

This seminar will begin by engaging contemporary analytic work on the foundations and methods of natural-law moral reasoning. But the better part of it will be spent examining arguments that apply natural-law insights to a variety of moral and political issues, including religious liberty and the role of the state; justice in commerce and in communication; just war and capital punishment; abortion and euthanasia; and marriage and sexuality.

A recent participant says,

One of the strongest parts of the program were the intellectually stimulating readings and discussions that have real world applications. I enjoyed that the program was not discussing scholars from an ivory tower; rather, the program also emphasized current debates and action in public policy.

This seminar is open to advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and young professionals.

Robert P. George, Princeton University
Christopher Tollefsen, University of South Carolina
Sherif Girgis, The Witherspoon Institute
Ryan T. Anderson, The Ethics and Public Policy Center

Application Deadline: February 2, 2024