Jacques Maritain Center

Ethics Without God?

July 13-20, 2003

Room 129, De Bartolo Hall

[Note: The links associated with titles below lead to abstracts of papers. The links associated with names of authors lead to the full text of the papers.]

Sponsored by the Jacques Maritain Center at the University of Notre Dame in collaboration with Fondazione Ruis’ VI European Seminar of Philosophical Studies

Grant me, O merciful God, that I might ardently love,
prudently ponder,
rightly acknowledge,
and perfectly fulfill all that is pleasing to you,
for the praise and glory of your name.

- Saint Thomas Aquinas

Brochure in PDF format

The development of modern philosophy and human-rights politics were closely connected to the famous hypothesis etiamsi daremus non esse Deum -- ethics, it was claimed, was grounded on nature and did not need God to be valid. Not long after, nature was strongly challenged too; and skepticism, nihilism, and the will to power joined, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the strongest movements of practical and theoretical atheism ever seen in human history. This has not produced much good fruit. Today scholars look more and more for new solutions in the past. They have initiated a slow but wise rereading of pre-modern traditions, which confronts two main challenges: namely, to recover the concept of nature, on the one hand, and to examine whether God has any real role to play in moral philosophy, on the other.

Participants to this conference have been asked to address primarily, but not exclusively, the second challenge. The inspiration of the conference is Thomistic and philosophical. This leads to dialogue with other traditions as well as with other branches of human knowledge. The invited speakers include not only prominent philosophers but also theologians and political scientists; and not all of them are, strictly speaking, Thomists. At the same time, several speakers are leading natural law theorists, and so the conference will be of special interest to scholars and students of natural law and related areas.


Sunday, July 13, 2003

Afternoon - Arrival of Participants

7:30pm Welcome and Keynote Address: Ralph McInerny (Director of the Jacques Maritain Center, Notre Dame)


Monday, July 14, 2003

Morning Session. Chair: Jeffrey Langan (University of Notre Dame, IN)

10:00 Lecture: Daniel McInerny (Liberty Fund, Inc.) “Hierarchy and Direction for Choice”

Afternoon Session. Chair: Marie I. George (St. John’s University, NY)

1:30 Lecture: Christopher Kaczor (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles) “The Divine in Aquinas’s Commentary on the Ethics: Can we be Good without God?”

3:20 Quodlibet: Antonio Donato (St. Hugh's, Oxford) “The End of Human Life: in Aquinas` Sententia libri Ethicorum

4:10 Quodlibet: Marco Maggi (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano) “«Lire les mystiques sans Dieu»: Interpersonal Communication, Mystical Language, and God in the Late Roland Barthes”


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Morning Session. Chair: Laura Garcia (Boston College, MA)

10:00 Lecture: Paolo Braga (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano) “Without God: Resentment and Utopia in Mainstream Fiction”

Afternoon Session. Chair: Alfred J. Freddoso (University of Notre Dame, IN)

1:30 Lecture: Marie I. George (St. John’s University, NY) “Aristotle vs. the Neo-Darwinians on Human Nature and the Foundations of Ethics”

3:20 Quodlibet: Luciano Sesta (Università degli Studi di Palermo) “How God Enters the Ethics that didn’t Allow for Him: Starting from Kant”

4:10 Quodlibet: Giacomo Samek Lodovici (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano) “The Role of God in the Ethical Thought of Thomas Aquinas”


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Morning Session. Chair: Anthony J. Lisska (Denison University, Ohio)

10:00 Lecture: Steven Long (University of St. Paul, MI) “God and Natural Law”

Afternoon Session. Chair: Ralph McInerny (Jacques Maritain Center, Director)

1:30 Book Presentation: John M. Rist, Real Ethics: Rethinking the Foundation of Morality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) Speakers: Michael Dauphinais (Ave Maria College, MI) Barry David (Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH) Armando Fumagalli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano) Daniel McInerny (Liberty Fund, Inc.)

3:10 Break

3:30 Reply by John M. Rist, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Classics at the University of Toronto

4:10 Free Discussion


Thursday, July 17, 2003

Morning Session. Chair: Matthew Levering (Ave Maria College, MI)

10:00 Lecture: Fulvio Di Blasi (Jacques Maritain Center, Notre Dame) “Knowledge of the Good as Participation in God’s Love”

Afternoon Session. Chair: Ralph McInerny (Jacques Maritain Center, Director)

1:30 Book Presentation: Russell Hittinger, The First Grace: Rediscovering the Natural Law in a Post-Christian World (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003) Speakers: Robert A. Gahl (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Roma) Joshua Hochschild (Wheaton College, IL) Matthew Levering (Ave Maria College, MI) Steven Long (University of St. Paul, MI) Michael Zuckert (University of Notre Dame, IN) 3:10 Break

3:30 Reply by Russell Hittinger, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Tulsa

4:10 Free Discussion

6 :45 Banquet


Friday, July 18, 2003

Morning Session. Chair: John M. Rist (Emeritus, University of Toronto, Canada)

10:00 Lecture: Robert A. Gahl (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Roma) “Who Made the Law? God, Ethics, and the Law of Nature”

Afternoon Session. Chair: Michael Zuckert (University of Notre Dame, IN)

1:30 Lecture: Jeffrey Langan (University of Notre Dame, IN) “The God of Contemporary Political Philosophy”

3:20 Quodlibet: David Thunder (University of Notre Dame, IN) “Reassessing the Role of Religious Belief in Democratic Deliberation: Shifting the Spotlight from Belief Content to Moral Disposition”

4:10 Quodlibet: James Krueger (University of Notre Dame, IN) “Moral Proofs Revisited”  

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Morning Session. Chair: Kevin McDonnell (Saint Mary’s College, IN)

10:00 Lecture: Anthony J. Lisska (Denison University, Ohio) “Is Ethical Naturalism Possible in Thomas Aquinas?”

11:20 Coffee Break

11:40 Lecture: Laura Garcia (Boston College, MA) “Ethics with One Wing”

1:00pm Lunch

Afternoon Session. Chair: Fulvio Di Blasi (Jacques Maritain Center, Notre Dame)

3:00 Lecture: Kevin Flannery (Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Roma) “Can an Aristotelian be a Friend of God?”


Sunday, July 20, 2003

 8:00am  Holy Mass
 8:45    Breakfast
 10:00   Departure


Daily Schedule

(unless otherwise indicated in the detailed schedule)

 8:45         Breakfast
 10:00/11:20  Lecture
 12:00        Lunch
 1:30         Lecture
 2:50         Coffee Break
 3:20         Quodlibet
 4:10-5:00    Quodlibet

In addition to the ordinary liturgical schedule on campus, a special Holy Mass will be available every day at 8:15 am for the participants.


General Information:

Abstracts of the papers and more detailed information will be available on The Jacques Maritain Center website.

Attendance of the lectures is free. Law students and graduate students in Philosophy, Theology, and Political Science are especially welcome to participate. Please, contact the Maritain Center for help in finding cheap accommodation during the days of the conference. Except for the speakers, a 10-dollar registration will be necessary to receive the detailed material of the conference (with copies of the papers) and a certificate of attendance.

The Banquet will cost 25 dollars and will take place at The Morris Inn on the Notre Dame campus. Dinner is free for the speakers. Both participants and speakers, to assure themselves a place at the dinner, should contact the Maritain Center before July 1, 2003.

Conference Coordinator: Fulvio Di Blasi (fdiblasi@nd.edu)

The Jacques Maritain Center
714 Hesburgh Library
University of Notre Dame
P.O. Box 495
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
phone: (219) 631-5825
fax: (219) 631-8211
email: Maritain.1@nd.edu
url: http://www.nd.edu/~maritain