Skip to main content

Dr. Feser on Woods-Ferrara Debate: "They were largely talking past each other & failing to make careful distinctions...what practical policies a Catholic should favor is simply not as obvious or clear-cut... There is much room for reasonable disagreement"

"The Church and the Libertarian": A Review

Haven't read Chris's book yet, but a few points I'd like to emphasize:

1. Libertarian rights theories in general, and Rothbardian rights theory in particular, cannot possibly be reconciled either with Catholic moral teaching or classical natural law theory. (I've argued for this in many places, but perhaps my Social Philosophy ahnd Policy article "Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation" is most relevant.)

2. It doesn't follow that this or that economics-based argument used by libertarians is incompatible with Catholicism or natural law theory. That is not to say that I endorse all such arguments -- far from it. But libertarian arguments often have two strands, a moral-theoretic strand and an economic-theoretic strand, that are not always carefully distinguished either by their defenders or by their critics. Nor, by the way, is this to endorse the idea of a "value-free" science of economics, which I also reject. The point is just that even when certain libertarians falsely claim to be giving "value-free" arguments, it still doesn't follow that the moral assumptions they are implicitly making are always bad (e.g. Rothbardian) moral assumptions. It depends.

For example, years ago Tom Woods on the one hand and certain Catholic traditionalists on the other had a very heated online exchange over the idea of the just wage. But it seemed to me then, and still does, that they were largely talking past each other and faling to make careful distinctions. In particular, Tom's critics were right to insist that the teaching that the just wage could in principle diverge from the market wage is binding teaching, and also that it is an error to think that economics is a "value free" science. But Tom was right to insist the claims made by anti-capitalists about what this or that wage "should" be are typically arbitrary, emotion-driven, and uninformed either by serious economic analysis or concern for empirical circumstances.

The truth is that applying Catholic teaching and natural law theory in these matters is a complex prudential affair. Hence, while it is important to condemn, in no uncertain terms, certain extreme claims made by Rothbardians and other libertarians on the basis of their false and dangerous theory of rights, once that is done I think it is better to put the "more Catholic than thou" rhetoric aside.

3. There is nothing in Catholic teaching that requires embracing distributism -- or, since that term is so vague, that requires going along with this or that opinion of this or that distributist writer. Indeed, like Jeff and Lydia I am not terribly impressed by distributist ideas, and I rather wish that paleo-conservative Catholics would get over the distributism fetish so many of them seem to have. (If you're going to find any point of view favored by the popes traditionalists tend to admire, it's not distributism but corporatism, which is not quite the romantic disributist "small is beautiful" view -- it holds that the small and the large both have their place -- and which in practice has, needless to say, problems of its own.)

In short, this whole area is a complete mess, and while there are definitely certain extreme views that need to be rejected as incompatible with Catholic doctrine and natural law theory, what practical policies a Catholic should favor is simply not as obvious or clear-cut as some people seem to think. There is much room for reasonable disagreement.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Intel Cryptanalyst-Mathematician on Biden Steal: "212Million Registered Voters & 66.2% Voting,140.344 M Voted...Trump got 74 M, that leaves only 66.344 M for Biden"

  William Binney Binney at the Congress on Privacy & Surveillance (2013) of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Born William Edward Binney September 1943 (age 77) Pennsylvania , U.S. Education Pennsylvania State University (B.S., 1970) Occupation Cryptanalyst-mathematician Employer National Security Agency (NSA) Known for Cryptography , SIGINT analysis, whistleblowing Awards Meritorious Civilian Service Award Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage (2012) [1] Sam Adams Award (2015) [2] Signature [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Binney_(intelligence_official) ] Former intelligence official with the National Security Agency (NSA) and whistleblower , William Edward Binney, whose occupation is cryptanalyst-mathematician explained that Joe Biden's "win" was impossible because "Biden Claims 13 MILLION More Votes Than There Were Eligible Voters Who Voted in 2020 Election" according to Gateway Pundit. Binney revealed "With 212Mil

"I love Cardinal Burke, but I've run out of patience": A Vatican expert who has met Francis & wishes to remain anonymous gave The Catholic Monitor an impassioned statement for Cardinal Burke & the faithful bishops: End the Bergoglio Borgata

Catholic Conclave @cathconclave @Pontifex thanks journalists for practicing omertà. The mind boggles at the scale of the possible coverups that this has enabled. How does he think a use victims feel when hearing this statement Quote Damian Thompson @holysmoke · Jan 22 Incredible! Pope Francis lets the cat out of the bag, thanking Vatican correspondents for their "silence" and therefore helping him conceal the scandals of his pontificate. Take a bow, guys! 8:23 AM · Jan 22, 2024 · 345 Views The moral crisis and "doctrinal anarchy" as Vatican expert Edward Pentin and others have written about in the Church caused by Francis has reached the breaking point where all faithful Catholics must pray for and demand that Cardinal Raymond Burke and the faithful bishops issue the correction and investigate if Francis is a n invalidly elected anti-pope . That is the purpose of this post. A Vatican expert who has met Francis and wishes to remain anonymous gave The Catholic Monit

Fr. Chad Ripperger's Breastplate of St. Patrick (Modified) & Binding Prayer ("In the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, and by the power of the Most Holy Catholic Church of Jesus, I render all spirits impotent...")

    Deliverance Prayers II  The Minor Exorcisms and Deliverance Prayers compiled by Fr Chad Ripperger: Breastplate of St. Patrick (Modified) I bind (myself, or N.) today to a strong virtue, an invocation of the Trinity. I believe in a Threeness, with a confession of an Oneness in the Creator of the Universe. I bind (myself, or N.) today to the virtue of Christ’s birth with his baptism, to the virtue of his crucifixion with his burial, to the virtue of his resurrection with his ascension, to the virtue of his coming to the Judgment of Doom. I bind (myself, or N.) today to the virtue of ranks of Cherubim, in obedience of Angels, in service of Archangels, in hope of resurrection for reward, in prayers of Patriarchs, in preaching of Apostles, in faiths of confessors, in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men. I bind (myself, or N.) today to the virtue of Heaven, in light of Sun, in brightness of Snow, in splendor of Fire, in speed of lightning, in