2018: Higher Powers

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Higher Powers
2018 Fall Conference | November 1–3, 2018

What is the proper relationship between God, the human person, and the state? In a 1993 address, Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn observed that, “having refused to recognize the unchanging Higher Power above us, we have filled that space with personal imperatives, and suddenly life has become a harrowing prospect indeed.” Twenty-five years after Solzhenitsyn’s address, and one hundred years after his birth, the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture’s 19th Annual Fall Conference considered how every human pursuit can be oriented toward higher powers and reflect on the true measures of social progress, the role of morality in law and politics, and the dynamics of liberty, dignity, self-sacrifice, and the good in public life.


In its characteristic interdisciplinary spirit, the de Nicola Center encouraged submissions from a wide array of fields of inquiry, including theology, philosophy, political theory, law, history, economics, and the social sciences, as well as the natural sciences, literature, and the arts. In honor of his centenary, we also invited reflections specifically on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s life and work.


The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture's Fall Conference is the most important academic forum for fruitful discourse and exchange among the world’s leading Catholic thinkers and those from other traditions. Recent past speakers include: Nobel Laureate James Heckman, Alasdair MacIntyre, John Finnis, Mary Ann Glendon, Rémi Brague, Charles Taylor, Michael Sandel, and Jean Bethke Elshtain.



Conference Schedule


Detailed schedule available here.


Thursday, November 1
1 p.m. Registration Opens
2-3:15 p.m. Colloquium Sessions (full schedule here)
3:30-4:45 p.m. Colloquium Sessions (full schedule here)
5:15 p.m. All Saints Day Mass
Bishop Kevin Rhoades (Fort Wayne-South Bend)
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
8 p.m. Joseph Pieper Keynote: "Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Art and Truth in a Fearsome Century"
An interview with Ignat Solzhenitsyn
Daniel J. Mahoney (Assumption College)
Click here for the livestream
9:30 p.m. Reception and Book Launch: Between Two Millstones, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Friday, November 2
9-10:15 a.m. Colloquium Sessions (full schedule here)
10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

"Liberalism and the Invisible Hand"
Adrian Vermeule (Harvard Law)

"Higher Purposes of Free Speech"
Marc DeGirolami (St. John's University)

"The State and Freedom of Speech"
Michael Moreland (Villanova University)

1:30 p.m. "Absences from Aquinas, Silences in Ireland"
Alasdair MacIntyre (NDCEC Senior Distinguished Research Fellow)
Click here for the livestream
3:15-4:30 p.m.

"Overcoming Polarization through Catholic Social Teaching"
John Carr (Georgetown University)

"Church and State in a Time of Polarization"
Mark Movsesian (St. John's University)

"The Art of Good Government: Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena"
Elizabeth Lev (Pontifical University of the Angelicum)

"Mistuned Chords of Memory: Display and Democracy in the Art Museum"
Jennifer Donnelly (Independent Scholar)

5:15 p.m. Mass
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
8 p.m. "Mightier than the Sword: The Power of St. Thomas More and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn"
Rev. John P. Wauck (Pontifical University of Santa Croce)
Click here for the livestream
Saturday, November 3
9-10:15 a.m. Colloquium Sessions (full schedule here)
10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

"Can the Modern Human Rights Project Be Saved?"
Mary Ann Glendon (Harvard Law)

"The Complexity of Power Relations in the Ancient Roman Family Law: Patria Potestas and Public Authority"
Patrizia Giunti (University of Florence)

"From the Ideological Lie to Freedom as Self-Restriction: Solzhenitsyn's Vision of the Soul and Politics"
Daniel J. Mahoney (Assumption College)

1:30-2:45 p.m.

"Post-Secularity, Post-Modernity, and Pluralism: The Christian Witness as a Contribution to the 'Good Life' in Today's Society"
Rev. Javier Prades (University of San Damaso, Madrid)

"As American as the Declaration of Independence? Social Structure and Higher Powers"
Jacqueline Rivers (Harvard)

"Martin Luther King and the Principalities and Powers"
Rev. Euguene Rivers (Seymour Institute)

"Let Every Soul Be Subject to the Higher Powers: Romans 13, Subsidiarity, and International Aid"
Monique Chireau (USAID)
Maryssa Gabriel (University of Notre Dame)

3:15-4:30 p.m.

"Guilt in the Immanent Frame"
Wilfred McClay (University of Oklahoma)

"The Importance of Not Being God: A Higher Power Is Indispensable for Human Beings and Human Societies"
John Waters 

"Lincoln Reads the Bible: Science and Morality in the 'Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions'"
Diana Schaub (Loyola University)

"Biology, Technology, and the Cost of Conscience"
Bill Hurlbut (Stanford University)

5 p.m. Closing Mass
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
8 p.m. Closing Colloquy: "Higher Powers: Catholicism and the American Project"
Patrick Deneen (University of Notre Dame)
V. Phillip Muñoz (University of Notre Dame)
Gladden Pappin (University of Dallas, American Affairs)
Adrian Vermeule (Harvard Law)
Click here for the livestream


Past Conferences

Find information regarding past conferences and lecture videos at the links below.

Fall Conference Collage