George Grant and the Nature (and Loss) of a Moral Tradition

Date/Time
Date(s) - April 23, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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GEORGE GRANT AND THE NATURE (AND LOSS) OF A MORAL TRADITION:
“VALUES LANGUAGE” AND NATURAL LAW
Dr. Iain Benson
Professor of Law | University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney
Professor Extraordinary | University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa
One of Canada‘s most important philosophers, but not its best known, was George Grant (1918-1988). Some of his books such as Lament for a Nation (1965) remain on the curriculum of political science courses but others, equally important, such as Philosophy in the Mass Age (1959, 1966), have been widely overlooked.
Grant was a committed Christian and opposed abortion and euthanasia. Some of his work provided a robust analysis and critique of technology. In his essays, CBC talks and excellent short books such as his reflection on the American philosopher John Rawls (English-speaking Justice, 1974) Grant wrestled with some of the key problems today, always from a perspective deeply informed by classical sources and modern challenges.
In this presentation lawyer, legal philosopher and Professor of Law, Iain T. Benson, will address one of George Grant’s most important but frequently overlooked insights: that the shift from the language of the objective good described as “virtues”, (one of the key of which was “justice”) to the language of the subjective will as “ values” contains within it a monumental and sundering alteration that obscures morality and affects all areas of culture including education, law, business and even theology itself.
Professor Benson will give a brief introduction to the life and work of George Grant (and his wife Sheila) including a thumbnail review of their time at Oxford where they both knew C.S. Lewis, before describing Grant’s thesis on “values” in relation to his superb analysis of the natural law tradition.
IAIN T. BENSON, PhD (Wits); MA (Cambridge), JD (Windsor); BA (Hons) (Queens) was born in Scotland, raised in Canada, and now lives in France and Australia. He is currently Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney, and Professor Extraordinary, University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. His achievements include practising law at all levels of Court in Canada, directing an interdisciplinary think-tank for fifteen years, and numerous academic publications. In 2017 he gave the Acton Lecture: “Civic Virtues and the Politics of ‘Full-drift Ahead’” published by the Centre for Independent Studies. He has published over 50 peer reviewed articles and book chapters as well as two books. He is currently working as co-editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Handbook of Natural Law and Human Rights. He has acted in many leading rights cases in Canada and abroad and is invited often by media to give his views on a wide variety of topics. He was one of the drafters of the South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms, and was a Special Rapporteur on Law and Religion in Canada and South Africa to the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences. He is a published poet and records as a session musician.

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