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During the debates which preceded the ratification of the United States Constitution, James Madison said that “Liberty is to Faction what air is to Fire…” Madison knew that the Fires of Faction could destroy Liberty, but he also knew that Faction could not be eliminated, except by resorting to one of two unacceptable or impossible extremes: (1) the extinction of Liberty, or (2) the transformation of men into angels. Thus, Madison proposed a middle ground: Control and Leverage the Fires of Faction to kindle the Fires of Freedom. James Madison saw the U.S. Constitution as the mechanism by which this end could be achieved.
This lecture explores those principles and mechanisms of the U.S. Constitution by which the Fires of Faction were to be pitted and balanced in the greatest "controlled burn" that history has ever seen. The desired result: Fires of Freedom.
President Washington is quoted as saying that "Government [is]... like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master." If government is like fire, kindled by the People to keep themselves warm, then who else ought to contain it if not the same People who ignited it?
This lecture discusses the role of the People in providing a check and a balance against the Fire of Government, a troublesome servant, a fearful master.
Most people believe that the founding fathers enjoyed unprecedented unity in their creation of this nation. In retrospect, naturally, it would seem so, but the unity we see in their fruits arose primarily from their unity in mutual respect and perseverance despite great differences. The U.S. Constitution came about only after a long and difficult season of sowing and toiling in the fields of debate, compromise, and politicking. In fact, even after ratification, the founding generation was still quite divided over many core issues, and each side planned to influence the new nation and its new constitution accordingly.
The Great Debate over the U.S. Constitution continues to the present day, and our privilege is to join the debate with the full commitment and fervor of our forefathers, and influence how society defines just what the U.S. Constitution means. To influence this debate, however, one must have faith in its prospects, and know its history, its principles, its successes, its failings, its strengths, and its weaknesses. This lecture hopes to provide an impetus for more deliberate participation in the Great Debate.
This lecture explores the benefits and detriments of a "federal" as opposed to a "national" form of government. Listeners should leave this lecture with a clearer understanding of the gamble involved as this nation continues its path towards a more "national" form. Related topics include state rights, the 14th amendment, the incorporation doctrine, and judicial activism.
Equality is increasingly becoming a point of view rather than a mainstay principle of society. But only one definition of Equality is congruent with Rule of Law, as has been elaborated on by such great minds as Plato, Aristotle, Tocqueville, and others. This lecture explores the role, even the necessity, of a proper concept of equality in order to maintain rule of law and social order.
Aristotle said "Law is reason, not passion." This lecture analyses cases where the Supreme Court of the United States (which claims the unique privilege of being the final arbiter on just what the U.S. Constitution means) has arguably left the foundations of well-reasoned conclusion in favor of a more trending or passion-motivated conclusion. The signature tokens of passion-driven vs. logic-driven analysis are identified. The subjects are raised of (1) why Reason and Rule of Law are inextricably related, and (2) what role, if any, trends and passions ought to play in the law at large and in the courts.
Society is a delicate union of Morality and Civility not unlike the marriage relationship. This lecture employs the analogy of marriage to illuminate the proper balance between these two forces in society today.
In society, as in nature, yin and yang complementary relationships are evident. Complementary relationships result in synergistic growth and accomplishment. On the other hand, adversarial relationships result in the success of only one at the expense of the other. Sometimes people confuse a complementary with an adversarial relationship. In this lecture, the distinct attributes of complementary and adversarial relationships are identified. Also, the fallacious ideas and attitudes which can make even complementary relationships adversarial are also identified. Among those relationships discussed are Faith and Reason, Morality and Civility, Man and Woman, Passion and Reason, and more.
The Civil War was a unique event in history that tested the bonds of unity between diverging cultures within the same civil body politic. The power of the social contract was tested and the interplay between such relationships as nationalism and individualism, morality and civility, martial and civil law, freedom and subjection, etc. was made acutely evident in these extreme circumstances. This lecture uses the context of the civil war to make clear the powerful social and political forces that underlie our relative peace and prosperity today.
In the original tragedy of the commons, individuals could not act in the collective self-interest to preserve the commons. Their self-interest resulted in its overuse and destruction. The principles taught by the tragedy of the commons apply to a much greater context than mere economics, but also apply to how a civilized society is maintained and preserved from eventual destruction. This lecture explores what selfish interests are at play in modern society which tend to destroy common good, and the mindset that leads to the abandonment of the greater common interest.
Law is the application of universal maxims to individual situations. Universal maxims are a unique phenomenon of rational beings, who can see in their minds rules, generalities, and counsels that are not immediately evident in isolated contexts. Humanity naturally applies and trusts in the refining process of reason, deduction, logic and, yes, even law, to order, understand, and manage the world around it. At the most fundamental level, then, due process of law means that legal rules and conclusions are not reached arbitrarily, but by the application of some objective process that the people universally believe is capable of bringing just results. This lecture explores how the U.S. Constitutions is uniquely a rule of processes rather than of moral commandments, whose design is to bring about objectively sound results even amidst a morally diverse society. This lecture further explores how due process of law can be easily frustrated by well-intentioned but unenlightened moral interests and motives.
This lecture is an educational journey through the historical debates about the proper relationship between the Federal Judiciary and the States, from the Declaration of Independence, to Shay's Rebellion, from the Civil War to the present day. This seminar was conceived in light of the increasing conflict between Supreme Court decision and State laws, and is designed to introduce participants to the risks and benefits of our present system and how it has evolved to this point. Hopefully participants will leave the seminar with a feeling of the gravity of these debates and their impact on the future of American Republicanism.
Separation of Church and State is a concept which developed long after this nation already had states where an official church was established. This lecture explores why the founders, who because of their experience should have feared most the union of Church and State, did not go so far as the complete separation that is now the norm.
The original philosophy and principles of the U.S. Constitution have suffered degradation in a most fundamental way. With only minor revisions, the Constitution has become an entirely new document simply because it is now interpreted inside of an entirely new philosophical context. The lecture explores how a system of virtuous social responsibility has dissolved into a system of vicious individual rights, in particular, through a review of the history and development of the following doctrines: Freedom of Speech, Free Exercise of Religion, Establishment Clause, Privacy Rights, Judicial Review, Checks and Balances, Self-government, and more.
This lecture surveys the writings of the greatest minds concerning the origin, development, and maintenance of a rule of law, from the Hebrews, to the Greeks, to the Romans, to the modern day.
A philosophy is emerging which is fundamentally antithetical to the precepts of Christian faith, values, and goals. This lecture explores the fundamental assumptions, doctrines, and teaching of Christianity and then compares them to the emerging modern worldview.
Jane Eyre reveals in a dramatic context the various moral values which we may seize upon in the midst of challenging decisions and circumstances. The study of how we come to know or believe certain moral truths or principles is known as epistemology. Through the dramatic story of Jane Eyre this lecture explores the various epistemological methods by which we come to make life's most important decisions.
Should a corporation be treated as an existence independent from its officers, directors, and shareholders? If so, how can corporations be "charitable" or "just" or "good"? Can a corporation as a practical matter ever seriously adopt a value greater than making a profit? Wouldn't it cease to be competitive and die if did not make profit its highest priority? How can the corporate entity be leveraged to truly benefit society in more ways than merely economically? This lecture explores these questions.
Many are the philosophies that draw conclusions and demand actions which ultimately must undermine their original premise and motive. But in order to identify them one must be able to reason more than one or two steps away from the original proposition. Logical Fallacies, Sophistry, and Deceit run rampant within our society because our education assigns so little value to the original Trivium of education, Logic, Rhetoric, and Grammar. This lecture identifies a few major modern philosophical trends that defy common sense and reason at several levels -- e.g. logically, taxonomically, anthropologically, and so forth. Such fallen philosophies can only exist in a society plagued with a high lack of intellectual discipline and a widespread absence of rational discernment. In such societies - passionate, reckless and undiscerning - emotion quickly becomes the governing factor.
The Story of the Little Red Hen probably best shows the motives and interests that lead a nation to a state of "rights without duties." Beginning with this story to set the context, this lecture then analyzes the social and political mechanisms by which people with these selfish motives have actually gained political clout and transformed the face of American law and culture. Finally, the lecture opens up to a discussion as to viable methods to prevent the enslavement of the dutiful by those who demand rights without corresponding duty or merit.
Tolerance, as an ethical duty, is today very different than it was yesterday. This change is due to a shift in the fundamental presumptions and aims of society which have altered social concepts such as justice, equality, and rights. This lecture explores this shift, its causes, and its ominous portent.