A Worthy Life: Finding Meaning In America - The Annual Robert J. Giuffra '82 Conference

The Annual Robert J. Giuffra '82 Conference

May 22, 2017
May conference poster

Keynote Address by Leon R. Kass, M.D., Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College, University of Chicago; Madden-Jewett Chair, American Enterprise Institute

The free society is a great blessing, but it is not itself the sum of all blessings. We cherish our freedom, but we sense that it is a limited good, that it is to be used in the pursuit of other goods. As America’s Declaration of Independence suggests, freedom is linked to the “pursuit of happiness,” or to the quest for human flourishing. We want to be free, but we want to use our freedom to lead good lives, lives that are worthy in our own eyes and in the eyes of our fellow citizens. Moreover, our freedom is limited by our status as dependent beings. We owe our existence and our nurturing—and hence such freedom as we possess—to facts and forces not chosen by ourselves and beyond our initial control: our parents, our country, an inherited tradition of thought, and, not least, our own bodies. We sense that our humanity depends as much on these things as on our freedom, and that a proper, admirable, and humane use of our freedom requires us to give these things their due. Viewed in light of these considerations, the free society emerges as both an opportunity for and a challenge to our humanity. On the one hand, the free society opens the door to human flourishing by liberating people to pursue their lives according to their own best judgment. On the other hand, the free society may tend to absolutize freedom, with the disastrous result that people will seek freedom from the very things on which their humanity depends: family, country, tradition.

With a view to exploring the opportunities for and dangers to human flourishing in a free society, the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and the Association for the Study of Free Institutions are pleased to announce a conference entitled “A Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in America.” The program includes scholars from a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. We seek to address a number of questions. What is the vocation of the humanist in the free society? What is a truly human understanding of human sexuality? What is the role of freedom, nature, and social convention in directing our use of our sexual powers? What are the proper demands of patriotism in a free society? How does love of country elevate or endanger our souls? What ethical and legal standards should govern the use of our increasing technological power over human nature? To what extent does biotechnology promise to enhance our freedom? To what extent does it endanger our humanity? What is the role of liberal education in preparing citizens of the free society to navigate such questions and thus make the best use of their freedom? 

The Humanist’s Vocation: Leon Kass as Thinker and Teacher

Anton Barba-Kay, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America
Harvey Flaumenhaft, Tutor, St. John’s College, Annapolis
Yuval Levin, Editor, National Affairs; Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Benjamin Storey, Visiting Fellow, James Madison Program, Princeton University; Associate Professor of Political Science, Furman University
Chair: Thomas W. Merrill, Associate Professor, Department of Government; Associate Director, Political Theory Institute, American University

Sexuality and Human Flourishing

Paul R. McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Gilbert C. Meilaender, Senior Research Professor, Valparaiso University 
Catherine Pakaluk, Assistant Professor of Economics, The Catholic University of America
Chair: Jenna Silber Storey, Managing Director, The Tocqueville Program; Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Furman University

How Shall We Think about American Patriotism?

James Ceaser, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics, University of Virginia
Wilfred M. McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma
Diana Schaub, Professor of Political Science, Loyola University Maryland
Chair: William Kristol, Editor at Large, The Weekly Standard

Bioethics and the (Trans)Human Future

Adam Keiper, Editor, The New Atlantis; Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Charles Rubin, Associate Professor of Political Science, Duquesne University
Christopher O. Tollefsen, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of South Carolina
Chair: Richard F. Hassing, Research Associate Professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America

Roundtable on Liberal Education and the Search for Truth in Our Time

Aurelian Craiutu, Professor of Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington
Allen C. Guelzo, Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era; Director, Civil War Era Studies Program, Gettysburg College
Zena Hitz, Tutor, St. John’s College, Annapolis
Leon R. Kass, Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus, Committee on Social Thought and the College, University of Chicago; Madden-Jewett Chair, American Enterprise Institute
Chair: Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence; Director, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University

Video:

Award Presentation by Robert P. George and Keynote Address by Leon Kass

The Humanist's Vocation: Leon Kass as Thinker and Teacher

Sexuality and Human Flourishing

How Shall We Think about American Patriotism?

Bioethics and the (Trans)Human Future

Roundtable on Liberal Education and the Search for Truth in Our Time

Location:

Maeder Hall, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Cosponsored by:

  • The Association for the Study of Free Institutions at Texas Tech University

Photo Album:

  • Leon Kass Conference
  • Leon Kass Conference
  • Leon Kass Conference