Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Coming up on 20 years (!) of Mirror of Justice

This blog launched a gabillion years ago -- well, on February 3, 2004 -- with this post.  My own first (substantive-ish) post was this one, on "Law and Moral Anthropology". A bit:

The Psalmist asked, "Lord, what is man . . . that thou makest account of him?” (Ps. 143:3). This is not only a prayer, but a starting point for jurisprudential reflection. All moral problems are anthropological problems, because moral arguments are built, for the most part, on anthropological presuppositions. That is, as Professor Elshtain has put it, our attempts at moral judgment tend to reflect our “foundational assumptions about what it means to be human." Jean Bethke Elshtain, The Dignity of the Human Person and the Idea of Human Rights: Four Inquiries, 14 JOURNAL OF LAW AND RELIGION 53, 53 (1999-2000). As my colleague John Coughlin has written, the "anthropological question" is both "perennial" and profound: "What does it mean to be a human being?” Rev. John J. Coughlin, Law and Theology: Reflections on What it Means to Be Human, 74 ST. JOHN’S LAW REVIEW 609, 609 (2000).

According to the Robots, we've had going-on 7 million pages views and over 16,000 posts here.  Not all of them have been about New Urbanism, or Christ the King, or the judicial murder of Henry Garnet (even if, from my own blog-work, it might seem that way). 

We all (because of Twitter/X, Facebook, arthritis, etc.) blog less than we used to; some past contributors have moved on; the "issues" have changed . . . heck, we are on our third pope! (And, several of our original bloggers are now presidents of Catholic universities!)  Many of us have changed institutions, and jobs . . . and retired. And, of course, may eternal light shine on our former co-blogger, Fr. Araujo.

For my own part, I continue to obsess over questions having to do with Catholic institutions, and with the way these institutions are shaped, pushed, supported, thwarted, etc. by the law.  I continue to be interested in the ways that law mediates the relationships among "church," "state," and "society." Certainly, in recent years, the renewed interest in "integralism" has . . . affected the conversations about these relationships. 

The "anthropological" question still seems central, to me.  Any "Catholic legal theory" has to include, or incorporate, it seems, an account of what it means to be human, of what a "person" is.  (My friend Carter Snead's recent book on this question, in the context of public bioethics, is outstanding.) Today, even more so than in 2004, it seems as though the Catholic account is contested -- maybe even on the ropes.  Rather than being "everlasting splendours" -- created, loved, and sustained by God -- we are loosely connected, shifting, coagulations of identities, preferences, and performances.  What can law do -- how can law deal -- with such things? I'm not sure. Stay tuned! 


Garnett, Rick | Permalink


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