Liberal Arts

Economics – Law – Philosophy – etc.

Rescuing an Orphaned Thread (aka Lazy Blogging)

February 8, 2004 | 47 comments
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Last week Nate wondered about how to define “church doctrine.” Near the end of the comments thread, two people very articulately wondered about why we should bother doing so. (Here’s a link to the full discussion). Greenfrog asked: “At the risk of being perceived as a bone-headed realist, doesn’t that suggest that searching for some meaningfully mandatory set of doctrines is missing the point? If such a set of doctrines really isn’t an operationally determinate criterion, why should we conclude that it matters?” Joseph Spencer then usefully reminded us that the word “doctrine” simply means teaching, and posited that... Read more »

Priestcrafts

February 7, 2004 | 13 comments
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The Book of Mormon uses the term “priestcrafts” as follows: “priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.” (2 Nephi 26:29) Last weekend, I visited the “local” LDS bookstore (located about two hours away, near the Chicago temple) and discovered a new book about Jesus, written by a man I had met several years ago while practicing law. Although we met only briefly, my impression of this man was very favorable, and I am... Read more »

Street Preachers: The Coasian Solution

February 6, 2004 | 6 comments
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There has been quite a bit of discussion, some here and some on the LDS-law list, about street preachers and garment desecration. But it seems like everyone is missing the obvious question: What would Coase do? Read more »

Chaplinsky in Zion

February 4, 2004 | 4 comments
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According to the Deseret News, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is considering a city ordinance that would ban some of the more extreme street preaching around Temple Square. Read more »

What is Church Doctrine?

February 3, 2004 | 88 comments
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As Mormons we often like to speak as though we have a well settled body of doctrine that provides determinate answers to some set of questions, but is silent as to other questions. Thus, someone makes some comment in Sunday School with which we disagree, and we are able to say, “Well that is your opinion, but it is not church doctrine.” My question is how do I figure out if something is church doctrine or not. Read more »

Economic Growth Correlates Positively with Religiosity

February 2, 2004 | 2 comments
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According to researchers at Harvard, the religiosity of a country is a good predictor of it’s economic growth. The New York Times story is here. Read more »

A Society for Mormon Philosophy

January 30, 2004 | 2 comments
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It looks like “The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology” has finally decied to go public. You can check out their new website (very slick) at www.smpt.org. In addition, they will be sponsoring a conference at UVSC on March 19-20 on Mormon Theology. (link here) As a lawyer, I thought it is interesting that one of the things that they cite as spurring the formation of their society is the increased awareness of the importance of the 19th century Mormon experience for the constitutional interpretation of religious freedom. Note: T&S’s Jim Faulconer is the chairman of this august organization. Read more »

Guilt

January 29, 2004 | one comment
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There has been an interesting discussion of guilt over at Bob and Logan’s blog. In response to some comments that I made, Russell makes the following intriguing remark: Read more »

Office, Oaths, and Sins

January 27, 2004 | 14 comments
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I work as a law clerk for a federal appellate judge. As part of my work, I routinely assist in the enforcement of legal rules that I think are unwise or even unjust. Of late I have been wondering about the morality of what I do every day. Read more »

Justice for Fornicators

January 23, 2004 | 24 comments
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The extended discussion of Matt’s last post has got me thinking about abortion. I freely admitt that this is not a subject that I have actually spent a lot of time on, so I can’t claim that what follows is informed by either deep reading or deep thinking. What I have tried to do is put together an argument that makes sense out of the Church’s somewhat modified pro-life position, i.e. no abortion with limited exceptions of for rape, threats to life, etc. Warning, what follows contains a fair amount of pseudo-philosophical rambling. Read more »

Mormonism and Christianity

January 14, 2004 | 18 comments
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“Are Mormons Christian?” The question comes up again and again, and causes no small amount of frustration and hard feelings between Mormons and (other?) Christian groups. The response of the church, and of many members, has been to assert “Of course we’re Christian! We believe in Christ, don’t we?” Mormons are frustrated that that assertion doesn’t answer the question. After all, Christians, including those who believe that Mormons are not Christian, state that the requirement for Christianity is acceptance of Christ. If that’s the sole requirement, then Mormons are in (The church states “Jesus Christ is the Son of... Read more »

Mormonism and Commodification

January 13, 2004 | 42 comments
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One of the perennial (and perennially fun) debates in legal theory revolves around the issue of commidification. In this context commidification means the ability to take something and sell it. Thus, we have all sorts of fun debates about prostitution, markets in adoption rights, surrogate mothering contracts, and the like. So does Mormonism offer us anything that gives us any unique traction in these debates, or as Mormons do we simply argue about these sorts of issues in the same way as everyone else? Read more »

Covenant and Contract

January 12, 2004 | 12 comments
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I have been working on this post for a while, and I have finally given up (for the time being) on trying to make my thoughts more coherent. So be warned, what follows involves some rather rambling discussions of legal theory and legal history. I disclaim any warranties explicit or implied. Read at your own risk. Void where prohibited. One of my main academic interests is contract law and contract theory. As a result, I am fascinated by the theological idea of “covenant.” Generally, when people talk about “covenant” and “contract,” they distinguish them by saying that “covenants” involve... Read more »

Mormon Structuralism

January 6, 2004 | 6 comments
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There is an interesting post on “The Strange Career of Mormon Structuralism” over at the Metaphysical Elders about the relationship between structuralism and the thought of Hugh Nibley. I am not sure that I agree with everything in the post, but it does raise some interesting questions Read more »

A Whole Lot More on Natural Law

November 25, 2003 | 3 comments
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In a mad attempt to throw together Kaimi’s post on the “Christian Right” and Nate’s post on natural law, while also tossing in a bit about Catholic and Protestant theology… A few years ago I dug a little into a group called the World Congress of Families. It, like United Families International, has its roots in a loose network of politically conservative churches that saw the United Nations as beholden to an anti-traditionalist agenda. This is hardly a new complaint; it dates back to the 1960s and 70s, where you can find old John Birch Society stuff warning against... Read more »

Noel Reynolds, Natural Law, and the Personalized Good

November 25, 2003 | 3 comments
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One of my favorite former professors, Noel Reynolds, dropped by and left some very interesting comments on natural law. He begins by faulting the Thomistic natural law tradition for beginning its analysis with Aristotelianism rather than the scriptures, noting that in the scriptures it is either God’s command or our covenant with him that provides moral direction, not nature. Noel goes on to ask: And yet, the plan of salvation does presume the necessity of some disposition within us to seek after good or evil. And our salvation depends on the choice we will make. Or is that already... Read more »

Mormonism and Natural Law

November 24, 2003 | no comments
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Against Mardell

November 22, 2003 | no comments
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Re: Suing the church

November 21, 2003 | 14 comments
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A Conversation with Mardell

November 21, 2003 | no comments
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Suing the Church

November 20, 2003 | no comments
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