A Modest Proposal to Create a New Humanity

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Henry T. Greely’s The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction defends the idea that “Easy PGD” (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis) will soon replace sexual reproduction as the primary way human beings enter the world. “Easy PGD” is a logical scientific development beyond in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF involves fertilizing an egg harvested from a woman with a sperm and then placing the embryo into a uterus. “Difficult” PGD combines IVF with a genetic screen of the prospective embryos for attributes that parents would find desirable in their children and implanting the chosen embryo into the uterus. The “Easy” version…

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We’ll Always Have Sproul Plaza

fugitive democracy

Sheldon S. Wolin, who died last year, was an immensely influential figure in American political thought. His student, Nicholas Xenos, has edited 25 of Wolin’s essays as a kind of monument to his teacher, the noted democratic theorist, lover of “participatory democracy,” and scourge of all forms of antidemocratic thought. And a fitting monument it is. Fugitive Democracy and Other Essays gradually reveals the whole of Wolin’s thought from bottom to top, from fundamental question to perpetual answer. That question is what to do about modernity. Like Martin Heidegger and his French followers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault, but above…

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Recovering the Conservative Liberal Nation State

Liav Orgad

Liberal constitutional theory, and liberal political theory in general, have increasingly defended the status of often newly created or invented minorities. These are defined more expansively with each new theoretical formulation, as the means to resolve all political and legal tensions. Known by many names, including group rights, “aggregate collectivities” rights, multiculturalism, and the like, these approaches to governmental policy have tended not to diminish political tensions or promote democratic processes, especially in what Arend Lijphart has described as “deeply divided societies.”[1] At the heart of the matter is the divorcement of these theories from the historical realities that originally created…

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Adrian’s Abnegation

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Adrian Vermeule, John H. Watson Professor of Law at Harvard University, is a bold, original, and often brilliant thinker—and at times his own worst enemy. Along with a cornucopia of trenchant insights on (administrative) law, his copious output contains cheap polemics; intemperate attacks on scholars and judges who peddle “libertarian” law; reckless flirtation with proto-fascist legal tropes; and wild theorizing backed by little more than ipse dixit. That latter tendency in particular is on display in Law’s Abnegation: From Law’s Empire to the Administrative State. The book’s principal theme is the perennial tension between the lawful government of “classical” constitutionalism and…

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From Emergency Measures to Permanent Solutions

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A specter haunts the global economy, with the lingering prospect of another crisis that might throw the U.S. economy and others back into recession. Central banks and governments have worked to exorcise the specter, but their efforts have not eased anxieties. Nor have they addressed deeper systemic problems that make these economies vulnerable to banking sector risk. Uncertainty, heightened by a turbulent political year in America, casts a long shadow over the prospects for recovery. Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, who led that institution through the financial crisis of late 2007 to 2009, addresses what went wrong…

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Spanish Free-Market Pioneers

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Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson (1908-2003) played an important role in bringing attention to the contributions to economics of late medieval Spanish scholars, particularly the “School of Salamanca.” In Early Economic Thought in Spain, 1177-1740, first published in 1978 and out in a handsome new edition from the Liberty Fund, she delves also into the ideas and the writers that preceded and succeeded the Salamancan scholars. Grice-Hutchinson studied in London at King’s College, at Birkbeck College, and then at the London School of Economics, where she conducted research under F.A. Hayek, one of her most influential teachers. She moved to Málaga in 1951 after marrying Baron…

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Money’s Truth and Money’s Health

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Money is funny, the old saying goes, both in the cognitive puzzles it generates and the motivational extremes of human behavior it causes. The anti-liberal theorist Karl Marx ascribed these words to the liberal politician William Gladstone: “Even love has not turned more men into fools than has meditation upon the nature of money.” In The Ontology and Function of Money: The Philosophical Fundamentals of Monetary Institutions, Dr. Leonidas Zelmanovitz has ambitious plans. He seems to have read everything important related to money by philosophers, economists, historians, and sociologists. To give a sense of Zelmanovitz’s range of classic and contemporary concerns,…

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Apologia for Islamism

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Ever since it underwent decolonization at the end of World War II, the Middle East has proved notoriously volatile politically speaking. Until the attacks of September 11, 2001, the West remained largely unaffected by the convulsions by which at regular intervals one or other of its constituent countries has been periodically shaken since gaining independence. It is against the backdrop of the present chaotic state of so much of the Middle East that Shadi Hamid, a Muslim American of self-proclaimed liberal and democratic proclivities, has written Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle over Islam Is Reshaping the World. He seeks to explain…

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Collision Course

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For the American student of China, these are interesting times. Domestically, repression is on the rise: It is now common to turn on the television in China and see free-thinking individuals, days or weeks after having been “disappeared,” confess woodenly to crimes for which they have not yet been legally charged. Equally striking is China’s assertive behavior abroad. Beijing has declared a million square miles of the South China Sea to be a Chinese lake, with swiftly constructed artificial islands now starting to be fortified and The Hague’s adverse ruling brushed aside with contempt. “One Belt, One Road” and the Asian Infrastructure…

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Theory Comes Down to Earth

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Political Political Theory is no misprint. Jeremy Waldron’s stuttering title well expresses his intention. In the last generation, observes Waldron, “political theory” has become synonymous with considering the moral foundations of political life; the writings of John Rawls and Robert Nozick have framed much of the discussion. With the phrase “political political theory,” he signals the need to direct some philosophic attention to the actual operations of political life—particularly the forms, structures, and institutions by which we rule ourselves or are ruled by others. Philosophers used to think institutions too important to be left to the political scientists, and they should…

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