Thomas Paine on Monarchy and Hereditary Succession (Happy Birthday to the New Royal!)

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

One of my favorite sections of Thomas Paine's Common Sense is his section on the monarchy and hereditary succession. It is one of the most interesting uses of a social contract-style historical critique.Of Monarchy and Hereditary SuccessionMANKIND being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance: the distinctions of rich and poor may in a great measure be accounted for, and that without having recourse to the … [Read more...]

Influence of Jean Bodin on Rawls #rawlsreligion

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Rawls wrote in "On My Religion" that one of the texts on religions which has most struck him is the Colloquium of the Seven by Jean Bodin. Rawls noted that three features of Bodin's thought stood out and impressed him about Bodin:First, Bodin was committed to toleration as a life-long Catholic. Rawls differentiates this from Spinoza who "came to toleration after rejecting or changing his religious faith" (Rawls 2010, 266). Toleration was instead for Bodin "an aspect … [Read more...]

Patriotism? Bah Humbug!

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Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, I have had doubts about the way in which the lens of nationalism informs my view of the world. While many turned to the flag and the chapel in the aftermath of those attacks, both seemed superficial to me. The loss that day was not an American loss but a loss of humanity. Those lives had value not as Americans (of course, many were not Americans), but as human beings. That many rallied around the banner of patriotism disturbed me then as much then as it … [Read more...]

Homosexuality Is Not a Sin

“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin."Not sure if I hate the sin, but I hate this saying. Well, at least when used in reference to homosexuality.The primary reason that I bristle against this saying is that I reject the idea that homosexuality is a sin. We should love everyone, including sinners. So, I am not saying that we should instead hate the sinner.I am not rejecting the idea of sin at all. Instead, I am saying that the construct which frames homosexuality as a sin is figment of c … [Read more...]

“…they depict God as a monster moved solely by God’s own power and glory….” #rawlsreligion

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Following his experiences in World War II, John Rawls more and more moved away from Christianity. He explains that his difficulties were "always moral ones, since my fideism remained firm against all worries about the existence of God." (Rawls 2010, 263)Fideism is the view that there cannot be an evidence-based or scientific proof of the existence of God. Since, Rawls' view of the existence of God was not in question, his departure from Christianity was not an exodus towards Atheism, … [Read more...]

The Good Samaritan as The Other

The Good Samaritan, 1633 Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)

The parable of the Good Samaritan is well known and much beloved. The image of the caring Samaritan tending to the bruised and bleeding traveler speaks to the goodness of mankind; despite our egoism.I have noticed that this parable often shows up in secular moral theory. John Rawls uses it as an example of an reasonable religious concept that would fit within the parameters public reason (see “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited" by John Rawls). It is also used in a number of ways t … [Read more...]

Judith Butler’s Religious Roots (Video)

In the following video, philosopher Judith Butler discusses her work and philosophy with Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth. I particularly enjoyed hearing her discuss how the synagogue of her youth played a major role in her path toward philosophy.As a Rawlsian and Kantian, my work and thought is very different from that of Butler. However, her approach to gender continues to fascinate me and I admire her activism.Also, I second her recommendation of Plato's … [Read more...]


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