Civil Liberties and Public Morality

Why prevent victimless crimes? Why not let people
act as they please as long as they do no harm to
others? Many Americans agree that government
has no business meddling in the "private lives" of
its citizens, but Robert George thinks that this opinion needs to
be reexamined. McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at
Princeton University, Robert P. George persuasively argues that
private virtue is a matter of public concern. George embraces
"natural law theory" while questioning the central doctrines of
modern liberal jurisprudence. He argues that moral legislation
can play a legitimate role in maintaining a social environment
conducive to virtue and inhospitable to at least some forms of

In Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (1995),
George defends the society which seeks to "make men moral" as
long as the moral legislation is rightly grounded in natural law.
In so doing, he replaces legal positivism - the notion that actions
are right or wrong because government says so - with objective
moral truths discoverable by reason.

Natural law theory is enjoying a revival of interest in a variety
of scholarly disciplines including law, philosophy, political
science, and theology. Robert George stands at the forefront of
this movement. In addition to Making Men Moral, he is author
of In Defense of Natural Law (1999) and The Autonomy of Law: Essays on
Legal Positivism
(1999). He has also published articles in the areas of
jurisprudence and constirutional law. George is a member of the
editorial board of the American Journal of Jurisprudence and the
board of directors of the Philosophy Education Society. He has
received a Judicial Fellowship from the Supreme Court of the
United States and is a former Presidential appointee to the
United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Robert George received a law degree from Harvard Law
School and a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University.
Professor George's talk is sponsored by CMC's Henry Salvatori
Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern