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Jul 15

Natural Law Liberalism: A Contradiction in Terms or the Foundation of American Conservatism

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A book event

Are “liberalism” and “natural law” friends or enemies? Many Americans consider them to be incompatible, though natural law had a central place in the thought of the American Founders. Contemporary liberalism seeks to eliminate the remnants of natural law in our political and social order – but this would undermine fundamental principles of our national life.

In his book Natural Law Liberalism, Christopher Wolfe criticizes contemporary liberalism’s tendencies toward skepticism, relativism, and extreme individualism, and advocates a renewed form of the liberalism of the American Founders and Tocqueville. This “natural law liberalism” would more effectively guarantee the inherent dignity of the human person, freedom, and prosperity, and the essential conditions for achieving these goals. Is this reconciliation of liberalism and natural law a realistic possibility today?

Christopher Wolfe, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Marquette University, is Co-Director of the Thomas International Center. His books on constitutional law include: The Rise of Modern Judicial Review (1986), Judicial Activism (1991), and How to Read the Constitution (1996). His articles have appeared in First Things and various professional journals. Professor Wolfe holds a B.A. in government from Notre Dame University and a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Boston College.

More About the Speakers

Christopher Wolfe, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Marquette University

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Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.

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