A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century, a Talk


The UCSB Anscombe Society is happy to co-host Dr. Robert Royal, who will discuss his new book, A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century. This book chronicles the great thinkers who contributed to the intellectual and emotional development of Catholicism in the twentieth century. One common theme in the book is how to unite both disciplined thought and emotion in the Catholic faith.

The talk is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 22 in the main part of St. Mark’s. Dr. Royal will also host a book sale and signing after the event.
We hope to see you there!

After Obergefell: The Impact on Marriage and Religious Liberty, A Debate

Join the UCSB Anscombe Society for its second event, a debate on the consequences of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling between UCSB philosophy professor Dr. Quentin Gee and Heritage scholar Dr. Ryan T. Anderson.

The event will take place on Thursday, February 4th at 7:00 PM in the  Psychology Building, Room 1924.

A link to the event can be found here:


Event Location and Parking

Below is attached a map of UCSB that shows where one can park (note that parking for those without UCSB parking permits is possible only in the parking structures that indicate a pay machine symbol) and the location of the Psychology Building (source: https://labs.psych.ucsb.edu/german/tamsin/uploads/2/4/0/4/24040853/map_ucsb.jpg):


Open Letter to the Queer Community at UCSB

To the queer community at UCSB:
I am deeply disappointed by the crude and disrespectful display carried out by some of your community members which disrupted our inaugural lecture last Tuesday with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse entitled “Same Sex Marriage: Why Not?” Your actions demonstrated disrespect towards our group members, our lecture guests, and our speaker – Dr. Morse. They also reflected poorly on UC Santa Barbara, which, as a university, is dedicated to free inquiry in the pursuit of truth. More than that, your actions have demonstrated that you have a disregard for intellectual discourse, that you oppose civility and free inquiry and that you are uninterested in engaging in reasoned discussion or extending respect to others with whom you disagree.
In the lead up to the event, I made multiple overtures to include the entire UCSB community in the conversation. On April 13, 2015, I sent an email to the co-chairs of the Queer Student Union (QSU) as listed in UCSB’s student organization online catalog. In the email, I invited the QSU to co-host a debate on same-sex marriage so that both the Anscombe Society and the QSU could engage in civil discussion in an intellectual forum. I never received a response
With seemingly no one willing to participate in a debate, we decided to organize a lecture. Still, we did not want to create an ideological echo chamber. To avoid that we invited the entire student body (via email) to attend the lecture and to bring questions. Confident that our arguments would be able to withstand intellectual scrutiny, we chose to set aside a large part of the lecture for Q&A so that supporters of same-sex marriage would have ample opportunity to ask questions and offer counterarguments to our speaker, Dr. Morse. One response to this email was particularly telling of UCSB’s willingness to engage in civil intellectual discourse: a fellow student wrote back to our email to inform us in no uncertain terms that he disagreed with us, and that he would regard any attempt by us to announce our lecture or to communicate with him on this topic as “evil.”
I reached out again to the QSU, inviting the co-chair of the QSU to attend the event with his colleagues in the QSU so that they could present their objections during the Q&A. The response from the QSU was clear: “We are not interested at all.”
Still, I did not give up entirely. I reached out a final time a few days before the event to the co-chair of the QSU to ask if he was planning to attend and that, if he was, I would have liked to welcome him and meet with him in person, recognizing that reasonable people of good will can disagree on matters of public policy. I received no response.
As it turns out, however, members of the queer community at UCSB were, in fact, “interested” in attending the event—just not in having a conversation with us. After having ignored all our efforts to engage in a civil, face-to-face dialogue, they chose to attend the Anscombe Society’s inaugural event to disrespect and insult us, our speaker, and the audience and to disrupt the event. Roughly twenty members of the queer community showed up at the lecture (where children were present) with matching t-shirts, with flags and with profane signs. One particularly obscene sign read: “the most inclusive form of f*****g is anal” (the Anscombe Society had asked attendees not to bring signs to the event, especially those with obscene language or profanity).
Upon seeing the crowd, I immediately went up to you to greet you, shake your hand, and welcome you to our event. The first person to whom I extended my hand reached out and grudgingly shook it as if he was disgusted at me, as if I was some untouchable leper. The second person shook my hand in a similar grudging manner. I then recognized the next person as the co-chair of the QSU with whom I had a brief correspondence. I thanked him for coming and extended my hand to greet him. He refused to shake my hand. Not sufficiently content with this amount of disrespect, they also refused to shake Dr. Morse’s hand when she tried to greet them.
You only disrupted our event for the first several minutes, yelling profanities as you made your way out and proving by your departure that you have no interest in dialogue or debate—only in shouting down your opponents. You may think your actions were heroic or that you deserve some sort of applause for your collective tantrum. Your actions were not heroic and you deserve no praise. I can think of some who do deserve praise, however: after you left, some supporters of same-sex marriage unaffiliated with your obscene demonstration stayed in their seats and listened to the lecture. They raised objections to Dr. Morse’s arguments during the Q&A and a healthy exchange ensued. These are the people who deserve praise. They recognized that discourse—often impassioned—in the pursuit of truth is fundamental to the life of a university. Instead of embarrassing your community and disrespecting ours by your childish behavior, you could have chosen to join your fellow same-sex marriage supporters to make your case and engage us intellectually.
I sincerely hope that next time you will respect your own positions enough to bring them into the conversation.
Carlos Flores

President, Anscombe Society


Same Sex Marriage: Why Not? UCSB Anscombe Society Inaugral Talk

Join the Anscombe Society at UCSB for our inaugural lecture, Same Sex Marriage: Why Not? by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

The talk will be held on Tuesday, May 26th at 7:00 PM in Buchanan 1910.

All are welcome to attend and take part in this important discussion. Attendance is free.

The FaceBook event can be found here:


Event Location and Parking

Below is attached a map of UCSB that shows where one can park (note that parking for those without UCSB parking permits is possible only in the parking structures that indicate a pay machine symbol) and the location of Buchanan Hall (source: https://labs.psych.ucsb.edu/german/tamsin/uploads/2/4/0/4/24040853/map_ucsb.jpg):



Why Arguments for “Marriage Equality” Are Either Question-Begging or Unsound

By now we are all familiar with the most common (though perhaps not the most sophisticated) arguments for same-sex “marriage.” Uttered in the vulgar, these arguments typically look like this: “Not letting homosexuals marry whom they love like heterosexuals can is to treat homosexuals unjustly.” More charitably, we can present what this less-sophisticated argument aims to convey in perhaps two ways:

Argument A

  1. Marriage is a loving commitment between individuals.
  2. Two men or two women can be (and often are) in a loving commitment with one another.
  3. Therefore, two women or two men can (or should be able to) marry.

Argument B

  1. If there were marriage equality, then homosexuals would be able to marry.
  2. Homosexuals cannot marry.
  3. Therefore, there is no marriage equality.

Argument A as a Prototypical Question-Begging Argument for Same-Sex “Marriage”

Let’s address the first horn of the dilemma. Consider Argument A. Its first premise (namely, “marriage is a loving commitment between individuals”) is an assumption that the supporter of conjugal marriage would not accept. (Indeed, its first premise is false, but never mind that for now.) To simply assume that marriage is just a loving commitment between individuals is to completely ignore and brush past the very question that is in contention between the supporter of same-sex “marriage” and the supporter of conjugal marriage, namely, what is marriage? On one side, the supporter of same-sex “marriage” claims that what distinguishes marriage from other relationships is that it differs not in kind from, say, friendships or companionship, but rather in the degree of the loving commitment that is present between the individuals. On the other side, the supporter of conjugal marriage claims that marriage is not just a loving commitment but is rather another kind of relationship altogether–one that is loving, to be sure, but also one that distinguishes it from all other relationships insofar as it unites the spouses comprehensively in mind and body in coitus and that this unitive act is itself intrinsically (as opposed to merely accidentally) ordered towards procreation.

Similarly, whereas the supporter of same-sex “marriage” will typically claim that the public purpose (i.e. the reason why a thing exists as a matter of public policy in the interest of the public good) of marriage is just “to recognize loving commitments,” the supporter of conjugal marriage holds that the public purpose of marriage is rather “to attach mothers and fathers to one another and to any children they may have.”

Often, however, this proves ineffective in demonstrating to the supporter of same-sex “marriage” why this sort of equality argument is question-begging. The supporter of same-sex “marriage” will simply dig in his heels and claim: “It’s still unjust to disallow same-sex couples from marrying!” Because of this, it might prove very useful to momentarily take the focus away from marriage and consider various analogies that help to explain this point.

Useful Analogies

Consider, for example, a debate club for women. Would it be unjust or unequal to disallow a man from joining the women’s debate club? Well, of course not–this club exists for the purpose of being a debate club for women. Indeed, it would be utterly absurd if a bunch of men gathered outside of where the club meets with signs and demanded “debate club equality,” claiming that they were being treated as “less than human” by being denied their “constitutional right” to become members of women’s debate clubs. The women of the club might in turn go out to meet the protestors and point out that they have never committed themselves to the supposition that men are “less than human.” They might also point out that they are not “being mean” by not allowing them to join a women’s debate club. The women might simply point out that the debate club exists for women and that the men’s immature inability to grasp that fact may not thereby make them “sub-human” but it very well makes them look utterly foolish.

Consider now drivers’ licenses. Would it be unjust or unequal to disallow a blind man from getting a license? Of course not! Drivers’ licenses exist for the purpose of providing individuals the legal permission to operate a vehicle provided they are deemed sufficiently capable of doing so. It would likewise be comically absurd if tomorrow a group of blind people manifested outside of a DMV and demanded “driver’s license equality,” alleging that they are being “discriminated against” and are being “treated as second-class citizens” by not being given the chance to receive drivers’ licenses. In fact, in echoing supporters of same-sex “marriage,” they might add that “this is just so mean–the people who do not want to let us get licenses are just backwards, myth-believing bigots who believe the outdated and debunked supposition that sight is necessary for driving!” And again, though it might take them 4 hours to do so, DMV employees might go outside and meet with the blind people and assure them that they don’t think that they are “second-class citizens” and that they are not “being mean” by not allowing them to get drivers’ licenses. They might even add that, while they do not think that they are “second-class citizens,” they nevertheless think of their manifestation as silly.

Finally, consider a couple public restrooms. Consider first a unisex restroom that exists to accommodate anyone (i.e., either men or women may use it, provided it is vacant, etc.). Would it be unjust or unequal to disallow a woman to use this restroom because she is a woman? Clearly it would because this restroom exists for the purpose of accommodating to any individual, be he or she male or female. Now, the woman may be legitimately disallowed from using this restroom for other legitimate reasons—say, because it is not vacant, or because it is being repaired and is out of service, or because the last time she was in there she tried to set it on fire. But to disallow her to use the restroom because she is a woman is not at all a good enough reason to disallow her from using the restroom in light of the fact that the restroom exists for the purpose of accommodating to either men or women.

This is very crudely analogous to the position of the supporter of same-sex “marriage” who typically holds that the public purpose marriage is just something to the effect of: recognizing loving relationships between committed individuals. Now, if the public purpose of marriage, as the supporter of same-sex “marriage” alleges, is just to recognize loving commitments (or something akin to this), then it very well would be unfair and unjust to disallow, say, two men or two women from marrying, for two men or two women could be just as much in a “loving commitment” with one another as Susan and Bob, the opposite-sex couple. (Notice, however, that under this understanding it would also be “unfair” to disallow 5 individuals who are “lovingly committed” to “marry” for it is clear that more than two individuals can be “lovingly committed” to one another. In fact, on this view, there would be no principled reason to disallow any number of persons to “marry” one another.)

Consider now a restroom that exists to accommodate to women only (i.e., only women may use it, provided it is vacant, and provided the woman wanting to use it doesn’t want to set it on fire, etc.). Would it be unjust or unequal to disallow a man to use this restroom? Of course not–this restroom exists for the purpose of accommodating females only. This is very crudely analogous to the position of the opponent of same-sex marriage who holds that the public purpose of marriage is something akin to the following: to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another, upon whose stability the children depend for their well-being.

Accordingly, if the public purpose of marriage just is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another, as the supporter of conjugal marriage contends, then it would not be unjust or unequal to disallow, say, two men or two women from “marrying.” In fact, it would not be any more unjust or unequal to do so than it would be unjust or unequal to disallow a man to enter a women’s debate club, or to disallow a blind woman to get a driver’s license, or to disallow a man to use a women’s restroom, etc. Any allegations that disallowing two men or two women to “marry” is “unfair” or “unjust” or “mean” or “bigoted” are, on this view, simply false—a sign of a grave misunderstanding and nothing more. This should suffice, then, to show how arguments for same-sex “marriage” like Argument A prove to be question-begging.

Argument B as a Prototypical Unsound Argument for Same-Sex “Marriage”

Turn now to the second horn of the dilemma and to Argument B. Its first premise (namely, “if there were marriage equality, then homosexuals would be able to marry”) is true. On any marriage regime, however, premise 2 (namely, “homosexuals cannot marry”) is false. Consider: in states that recognize same-sex “marriage” and offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples, homosexuals can marry. Indeed, in this case, both homosexuals and heterosexuals share the very same restrictions as to whom they can marry: namely, any other individual of whatever sex.

Now, in states that understand marriage to be inherently conjugal and so of necessity between a man and a woman, homosexuals can likewise marry. What this means, however, is that homosexuals can only marry someone of the opposite sex like everyone else. In fact, in such states, homosexuals and heterosexuals share the very same restrictions as to whom they can marry, namely, someone of the opposite sex. So a homosexual man can marry a woman. A homosexual woman can marry a man. Thus premise 2 is false on any regime of marriage on offer. This suffices, then, to show how Argument-B-type arguments are unsound.

“What is Marriage?” — Talk by Dr. Ryan T. Anderson

In these videos, Dr. Ryan T. Anderson delivers a talk at Stanford Anscombe Society’s conference on why marriage is of metaphysical necessity between a man and a woman and what the social costs are of re-defining marriage.  The Q&A after the talk is also very interesting. Dr. Ryan T. Anderson is a graduate of Princeton and Notre Dame, where he received his Phd in political philosophy. He is the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation. Along with Dr. Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, he co-authored the excellent What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

Here is the Q&A:

Article in The Daily Nexus

Our president Carlos Flores had an article arguing against the moral and legal permissibility of abortion published in the The Daily Nexus, UC Santa Barbara’s independent student newspaper.

Here is the article in its entirety:

What the Abortion Debate is Really About

A certain news editorial was recently published in the Daily Nexus regarding a civil lawsuit that Life Legal Defense, a pro-life group, is advancing against Dr. Miller-Young, the professor involved in the unfortunate altercation with pro-life demonstrators earlier this year. While reporting on this is certainly newsworthy, it is important to take a step back to intellectually scrutinize the issue of abortion that spurred this unfortunate incidental encounter. Whether one is opposed to or in favor of the continued legality of abortion, it is generally agreed by both sides that the question is one of weighty concern. If Pro-Choicers are correct, then opposing the continued legality of abortion amounts to unjustly restricting the liberties and bodily sovereignty of women. If, on the other hand, Pro-Lifers are correct, support for abortion amounts to an outright denial of those same liberties and rights to the unborn of either gender vis-a-vis the gross killing of human beings on a scale never before imagined.

So who is right? We ought to begin, as many philosophers who have engaged this issue have, by asking a fundamental question upon which the entire disagreement rests: What is the unborn? We cannot begin to ponder whether it is morally permissible to kill something unless we first know what it is. Suppose, for example, that you are playing with your 6-year-old nephew. Suppose he goes around a corner out of your sight and shouts out to you: “Hey, can I kill this thing?” Your answer, one would hope, would be: “Wait — kill what?” As you go around the corner to see what he is referring to, you might suppose that he is pointing to a nasty-looking spider. In that case, you might say in response: “Wow, that’s a nasty-looking spider. Go ahead and smash it.” For most of us, there is no ethical problem here. But now suppose that, as you are walking around the corner, you see that your nephew is pointing to your neighbor’s dog, Buddy. In this case, you might say: “What? Of course you can’t kill Buddy! His owner will be very upset!” To go one step further, suppose that as you walk around the corner your nephew is pointing to his younger brother, Thomas. In this case, you might say: “What’s gotten into you? Of course you can’t kill your brother Thomas!” If you fancied yourself a philosopher, you might add something like: “All things being equal, human beings are the sorts of things that we have an exigent moral obligation to refrain from killing and, because Thomas is a human being, it would thus be a grave moral transgression for you to kill him.”

The question, then, is this: Is the unborn a human being? If so, then aborting an unborn child would be grave moral transgression akin to your nephew’s killing his brother Thomas. If not, then an abortion would instead be comparable to the removing of a wart or a hair follicle, and so no ethical problem would present itself. But it’s easier to settle this question than you may think. Indeed, when one begins to seriously consider this question, it becomes difficult to imagine the unborn as anything but human. After all, the unborn is alive, it is growing internally and it has human parents. So what else could it be? It is not bovine or feline or reptilian, for example. It is, in fortunate circumstances, also not dead. It is also not merely a part of the mother’s body, lest we be led to the rather absurd conclusion that pregnant women have four arms, four legs, two hearts and, in many cases, both male and female reproductive organs. An embryo also has its own unique DNA upon the moment of conception. Regardless of their religious, metaphysical or ethical commitments, embryologists agree on this much: “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” Even Alan Guttmacher, a former president of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, recognized this, commenting: “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge.”

Many Pro-Choicers have presented objections to the above like the following: “If it is immoral to kill human beings, then, by your reasoning, isn’t it a moral tragedy when ‘human’ skin cells or sperm cells are killed or when they are allowed to die? If we give fetuses a right to life, then doesn’t this imply that we also have to extend skin cells and sperm cells this same right? So, unless you mourn for dandruff, you’re not being consistent.” But this objection makes the mistake of confusing parts with wholes. Upon fertilization, an embryo is a complete organism that directs its development from within in a way that skin and sperm cells do not. All by itself, neither a skin cell nor a sperm cell will develop into an adult human being. But an embryo will. More precisely we can say this about parts and wholes: Parts are metaphysically posterior to the whole insofar as parts are ordered, in coordination with one another, towards the good of the whole. That is, parts are distinct from the whole insofar as parts strive in unity with other parts towards a common unified goal, namely, the life of the whole organism of which they are a part. It is easy to see this in humans. Hearts, for example, work in conjunction and coordination with other parts (namely livers, lungs, brains, etc.) towards a single end or goal: the biological life of the whole. In light of this, then, this objection doesn’t prove to be very convincing.

Having hopefully allayed some possible objections, we can, then, reason as follows:

It is prima facie immoral to kill human beings.
Abortion kills human beings.
Therefore, abortion is prima facie immoral.
The unjustified killing of human beings ought to be illegal.
Therefore, abortion ought to be illegal.

By prima facie, I mean to say that, at first glance or “on the face of it,” it is morally impermissible to kill human beings. This is an extremely plausible premise that most — if not all — rational human beings immediately recognize to be true. Note also how this premise allows for the argument to avoid begging any questions by allowing for circumstances in which it might be morally permissible to kill a human being, for instance, killing in self-defense, as capital punishment for a crime or killing by the waging of a just war, if there is such a thing, etc. And thus, it seems, we have a plausible argument against abortion.