The question that haunts the preface of Robinson’s 2012 essay collection is: “What if we have ceased to aspire to Democracy, or even democracy?” For Robinson, democratic life is sustained by the discipline of education—“the will to ensure that the public will be competent to make the weightiest decisions”—and the prevailing winds in journalism and the liberal arts don’t bode well. In this collection, Robinson models the very skill she fears American culture is losing: she draws on her own breadth and depth of reading to contextualize and comment thoughtfully on some of the muddiest debates of the day, offering both warnings and reasons to hope.
Gerald P. McKenny
Debates about the uses and limits of biotechnology often hinge upon claims about “human nature.” Of course, our society hosts a wide range of such claims. In this book, McKenny seeks not so much to define “human nature” as to outline the different ways it is used in contemporary ethical debates. Is human nature understood to be inherently “off-limits” for technological intervention? Or, is it, paradoxically, a fundamentally human act to transcend human nature? Do “human rights” depend upon respect for human nature, and what does such respect require? McKenny’s book helpfully maps the conceptual terrain and suggests a path forward for Christians engaged in public discourse about biotechnology.
As Max Anderson said on the Vocation & the Common Good podcast, we seem to be on the leading edge of a movement away from the major platforms that have shaped our online lives to date. Amidst increasingly vocal concerns about advertising and privacy (including the gathering steam of #deletefacebook), more and more people are giving their dependence upon major corporate platforms a second look. In such a moment, Alan Jacobs' proposal in the most recent issue of the Hedgehog Review is certainly worth a close read.