…….legislation is a lazy society’s way (and especially a lazy Christian’s way) to get out of doing the hard work.
Feser gave the Hayek Memorial Lecture at the Mises Institute’s Austrian Scholars Conference in 2005. In it, he touches of some points that will further shed light on his views of conflict between natural law and libertarianism. Feser began to give up on libertarianism by 2004, so this lecture was given after this evolution in his views…..
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What society is missing is its Christian morality. It is not the state that will repair this – why would the state do this, as the loss of this morality only increases the demand for the state to act? It is the Church (and, in our time, the church) that must act to repair this. Feser should look to the church for solution, not the state.
Good laws do not come from corrupt people and today society follows corrupt people. Good laws come from good people, but with good people good laws are unnecessary.
So long as every worker has a reasonable chance of being able to support himself and his family, and so long as some means of emergency assistance is available to those who are unable to support themselves, inequalities of wealth of any size are in principle consistent with it.
The freer the economy, the more “reasonable” will be the chance for a worker to support his family. As to emergency assistance, again…the church, social organization, benevolent unions – all exist, all function, all do a better job of ensuring that support goes to the people deserving of support.
Moreover, the Catholic natural law conception of social justice is not entirely, and perhaps not even primarily, concerned with matters of economics. Issues of broader moral concern – abortion, euthanasia, cloning, same-sex marriage, pornography, and divorce being some of the most obvious examples – are, in modern capitalist societies, arguably of far greater import.
I will not conflate abortion with the other items on the list; abortion is murder, and it is murder under any definition of murder one care to apply. As to the rest, I can in no way find benefit in the idea of laws and punishment for violations of these.
Where is the Church (or church)? This entire discussion comes down to this simple question. It worked during the time when Catholic natural law theory was developed. It is not clear to me why Feser doesn’t apply that lesson here.
I say again, it was Feser who said “we have to look to common sense, experience, history, current circumstances, and whatever economics and the other social sciences can tell us in order to decide upon concrete policy.” History has shown us the way. These matters were subject to the Church.
Nowhere does Jesus call for Roman legislation in order to bring about such justice; instead he summarized the commandments, in Matthew 22:
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Love is a duty and love is found in the doing; we are to love the Lord and we are to love our neighbor. There is no call for Roman soldiers to adjudicate and punish those who do not love; that is in God’s hands. It is in the Church’s hands to properly teach love.
Because only when taken voluntarily will our actions be meaningful; only when taken voluntarily does our purpose have value; only when taken voluntarily will we find our way to liberty.
Feser is taking the easy way out here. There is no just society at the end of his rainbow. I will repeat something I offered in my earlier post on his views of self-ownership: legislation is a lazy society’s way (and especially a lazy Christian’s way) to get out of doing the hard work.
Christians have to do the hard work. This means Christian leaders have to lead. This could very well mean a reduction in the flock (but those who depart were never really part of the true flock in any case), but it is the only way forward toward a just society – and a society that moves toward liberty.