Lecture by Thomas Pink: "The Church, the State, and the Authority to Coerce"


Location: 1030 Jenkins Nanovic Hall (View on map )

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Join us for an afternoon Halloween lecture with Prof. Thomas Pink. 

Professor Thomas Pink has taught for most of his career at King’s College London. He writes on the freedom of the will, on ethics and political philosophy and on the history of these subjects. He is currently working on the political theory of Thomas Hobbes and its relation to natural philosophy and theology. He read history and philosophy at Cambridge, where he also received his PhD. After working in London and New York for a merchant bank, he returned to philosophy in 1990 as a Research Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He then lectured at Sheffield University prior to moving to King's College in 1996

Abstract: Historical Catholic teaching is that the church as well as the state is a potestas – a sovereign legal authority with the right to legislate and to enforce its legislation punitively. What conception of legal authority does this require? The lecture will compare conceptions of legal authority in both the historical Catholic theological and modern liberal traditions. The Catholic tradition viewed a potestas, whether political or ecclesial, as a coercive teacher. This conception of legal authority may well be defensible; but it also led, in the Catholic tradition, to a long-standing official theology, which extended into the twentieth century, of infallibility extending beyond magisterial teaching to include canonical legislation. The lecture will examine both the idea of authority as a coercive teacher, and then this official theology of canonical legislation, uncovering its sources and discussing its implications.

Co-sponsored by the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and the Notre Dame Law School.