Faith-Based Persuasion in the Public Square: Natural Law and Its Competitors.

A Conversation Among Scholars

Monday, October 14, 2-5 p.m. in the Reese Room at Smith House

123 Vernon Street, Hartford, Connecticut

The concept of natural law, deeply rooted in many forms of religious and secular advocacy in Western Culture, has been used by theologians and philosophers to argue that their positions, when derived from the use of reason to analyze human nature can deduce binding rules of moral behavior enforceable on both those who accept their particular ideologies and those who do not. Confidence in natural law approaches has been eroding, even with one-time bastions like the Catholic Church.

The conversation, which draws together scholars from religious and secular traditions that have emphasized natural law, as well as traditions that take alternative approaches, comes as a response to the publication of Mark Massa’s “The Structure of Theological Revolutions: How the Fight Over Birth Control Transformed American Catholicism,” which explores and evaluates the tumultuous debate the continuing relevance of natural law in Catholicism since the late 1960s.


Mark J. Massa, S.J., professor and director of the Boisi Ceneter for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College.

Paul Brink, professor of political science at Gordon College.

Joel Lohr, president of Hartford Seminary.

Hossein Kamaly, associate professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary.

M. Cathleen Kaveny, Darrald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

Elizabeth H. Prodromou, visiting associate professor of conflict resolution at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Mark Silk, director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College.

Maurice L. Wade, professor of philosophy at Trinity College.