What is Just According to Nature? Conference

What is Just According to Nature? Conference

What is Just According to Nature? | A Conference on the Dispute Between Thomas Aquinas and Leo Strauss | Apr. 1, 2022

Keynote Speaker: James Carey, Ph.D. | St. John's College

James Carey, St. John's CollegeDr. Carey graduated from the University of North Carolina with a BA in music. He received his MA in and his PhD, both in philosophy, from The Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research. In addition to serving as Tutor, and twice as Dean, at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, he has served as Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the United States Air Force Academy from 2004 to 2007, from 2009 to 2014, and from 2016 to the present. Dr. Carey’s primary research interests center on logic and metaphysics in the history of philosophy. He has been an invited speaker at universities across the country, including Tulane University and Catholic University of America. In his talks, Dr. Carey has addressed topics such as medieval proofs of the existence of God and the relation between philosophy and religious belief. Most recently, he has written Natural Reason and Natural Law: An Assessment of the Straussian Criticisms of Thomas Aquinas, which defends Thomistic natural law theory as genuinely grounded in human nature and practical reason.


About the Conference

We are pleased to announce a conference, “What is Just According to Nature? A Dispute Between Thomas Aquinas and Leo Strauss.” Addressing the fundamental questions at the heart of natural law theory, the conference aims to clarify the ground of the disagreement between Thomas Aquinas and Leo Strauss on such questions as the knowability of natural law and the relation between theology and natural law. Although there are important affinities between the Straussian and Thomistic approaches to the question of natural justice—e.g., an understanding of nature as normative and of human nature as essentially unchanging throughout history, as well as a defense of the contemplation of the truth as the highest human activity—there are also important points of tension which, when examined, enable us to better see what is distinctive in each approach.  

To this end, the University of Dallas has invited a select group of scholars to discuss the basic themes of this dispute as framed by Dr. James Carey in his book, Natural Reason and Natural Law: An Assessment of the Straussian Criticisms of Thomas Aquinas. We envision the conference as a friendly dialogue between scholars whose thoughtful disagreement on this topic can help us to grasp the basic problems that inhere in the philosophic quest for justice. 

Conference Program

Graduate Student Seminar

The Greek philosophers understood philosophy to be the right way of life for those who have the ability and the opportunity to live it.  Biblical revelation poses a challenge to this understanding. In responding to the Biblical challenge, the followers of the Greek philosophers do not wish to take it on faith, inconsistently, that the way of faith is inferior to philosophy. Instead, they wish to demonstrate that revelation is impossible, or at least that belief in revelation rests on moral presuppositions that do not withstand rational scrutiny. Dr. Carey's paper, “Reflections on the Possibility of Revelation,” attempts both to clarify the idea of revelation and to show that the moral presuppositions of belief are invulnerable to philosophical critique. 

Access Dr. Carey's article
An Overview of the Article.

Zoom Link

The panel and keynote address will be available over Zoom. Access the Zoom link.