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

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 Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government, de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, the Notre Dame Law School, and the Program on Church, State & Society. This event was recorded on October 31, 2022.

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.

For more information visit the event website.

Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government

October 31, 2022

Law and PoliticsReligion and PhilosophyCenter for Citizenship & Constitutional GovernmentCollege of Arts and Lettersde Nicola Center for Ethics and CultureDigest170Digest194Notre Dame Law SchoolProgram on Church State & SocietyThomas PinkUniversity of Notre Dame

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