Friday, April 24, 2015
Marc DeGirolami -- very fittingly -- is talking about the subject of "tradition and Catholic Legal Theory." He is focusing on a particular challenge, i.e., the fact that Catholic Legal Theory is often regarded, discussed, and presented as part of a "tradition" but . . . fewer and fewer people actually know what that particular tradition is or, indeed, what a(ny) "tradition" is. "What do we mean by 'tradition' when we invoke it?" Are we speaking sociologically, historically, normatively . . . ?
Another question: How much skepticism should we introduce, in our work or to our students, regarding the very idea of tradition and its moral force? Marc suggests a role for Catholic legal scholars, namely, that they can and should help students to appreciate that "tradition," actually, is not "utter bunk." We have to create conditions in which the claims and goods of tradition can get a hearing. We praise innovators -- destroyers! -- and not caretakers and stewards. (RG: Interesting that so many who profess to be unattracted to "tradition" are deeply attracted to "sustainability.")
More generally, Marc suggests, our work as law teachers should attend more to tradition in all courses and areas, not just Catholic Legal Theory. Our law students are entering into a learned profession, after all, and that entering-into goes along with -- at least it should -- an appreciation of and commitment to a certain inheritance.