Lincoln and the Easter of Democracy

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Few words are more well known. I love the speeches of Lincoln. While this speech may not be his greatest, I think that in many ways encapsulates what made Lincoln great. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. This speech … [Read more...]

“Sounds like Satan’s plan!”

From the recent Newsweek coverage of us Mormons: Congressman Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) sees an even deeper connection between his faith and his economic and political views. According to Mormon tradition, God and Satan fought a “war in heaven” over the question of moral agency, with God on the side of personal liberty and Satan seeking to enslave mankind. Flake acknowledges that the theme of freedom—and the threat of losing it—runs through much of Mormonism, and “that kind of fits my … [Read more...]

Freedom and Socialism

“How can the freedom of citizens be secured in a socialist state?” asked political theorist William Connolly. In Free to Choose, Milton Friedman makes an automatic connection between the economic freedom and political freedom, implying that socialism by its very existence denies freedom to its citizens. Economic freedom, as defined by Friedman, is laissez—faire capitalism or market activity with very minimal government assistance or regulation. Political freedom, as defined by Friedman, … [Read more...]

Charity Vs. Justice

It is often said that social justice is about forcing others to be charitable. I should let you in on a secret: I do not give a crap about whether you are charitable or not. If I was trying to force you to be charitable, I would be doing it to force you to be righteous, but social justice is not about whether you are just but whether our society is just (sorry, not everything is about you). Now saying that I am trying to force you to be charitable, is a clever (though repeating the same stupid … [Read more...]

Patrick Henry and Right-Wing (Anti-) Constitutionalism

The Patrick Henry Caucus is the pro-state’s right group within the Utah State Legislature. This is the right-wing of a very right-wing legislative body. They are in many ways the voice of the tea party movement and the 9/12 groups. The choice of Patrick Henry as their symbol is an appropriate one. Henry is most famous for his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. While this speech is a rousing oration, it points in many ways to who Henry is. He is not the great revolutionary, but … [Read more...]

A Student Comment on Social Justice, Rawls, and Chris H.

Professor H, A student in your Political Philosophy course asked that these comments be forwarded to you since they could not fit in the comment box available on the Student Ratings survey: This is from a student in my Political Science 309r: Special Topics in Political Philosophy. The special topic was “Social Justice.” No, this was not a response to Glenn Beck. His comments came out a couple months into the term and about 7 months after the topic had been chosen. The primary focus of the … [Read more...]

Sandel on Morality and the Free Market

"We have drifted from having a market economy to have a market society." Wow. A thoughful and insightful critique by the political philosopher Michael Sandel. Check out the clip. Also, I have written a few thoughts, inspired by Sandel and some conversations I have had lately, over at Radical Moderation. … [Read more...]

The Mormon Rawls Project: The Original Position and the Council in Heaven I

Authors note: The following is the second in my Mormon Rawls Project Series. It is also the expansion of my first ever post here at FPR. When Rawls develops the concept which he labels “justice as fairness.” This does not mean that a just society is one which is fair, but instead that principles of justice must be determined under conditions which are fair to all. While fairness may not be something commonly found in the world, we can imagine what the conditions of fairness might appear … [Read more...]


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