A new formula.

Author:Straley, Adrian
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

In his response to the many fine commentaries on the twentieth anniversary of the publication of The Naked Public Square (November 2004), Richard John Neuhaus states that he would now write less about "transcendence" and more about the human capacity for reason, including moral reason. He adds, "Natural law enters here, but someone has to come up with a better term than natural law, which is too easily seen as a peculiarly Catholic thing." Permit me to propose as a nonthreatening, not overtly religious formula for addressing questions of moral reason in the public square the term "the received moral wisdom of the American people." The natural law arguments related to homosexual marriage, the sanctity of human life, and other issues can easily be subsumed under this formula. Some might criticize this term as a synonym for unexamined popular prejudice, but they would expose themselves to the charge of harboring an elitist contempt for the convictions of the American people.

This formula is perhaps better suited to rhetorical use in public discourse than for rigorous intellectual...

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