I was honored to attend a talk on Janaury 21st by Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., who has recently authored a great book entitled Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues (Ignatius Press). Father Spitzer received his Doctorate of Philosophy from the Catholic University of America and is a world-renowned scholar, author, and lecturer, who went on to serve as President of Gonzaga University, and founded seven major national institutes, and helped produce a number of television series for EWTN. Father Spitzer currently heads the Magis Institute, an organization dedicated to public education on the relationship among the disciplines of physics, philosophy, reason, and faith, and the Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership, which works with corporations, individuals and nonprofit organizations in the area of ethics education. Father Spitzer gave a great speech this weekend at St. Anthony’s Parish in Falls Church, Virginia to a packed house of over 200 people sponsored by the Institute of Catholic Culture. In the crowd were many people from the Washington DC area, as well as people from around the country in town for the March for Life.
Father Spitzer’s book demonstrates that there are Ten Universal Principles that are secular, and for a secular culture. I listened also to a talk that Father Spitzer had with Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan on XM Satellite Radio-Catholic Channel, in which he said that a society will not thrive if it is missing any one of these essential principles. Father Spitzer elegantly shows in his book that these ten principles are needed to help make the case for right to life, death penalty, poverty, marriage, and immigration issues that are close to the heart of Christians and Catholics, but also apply to all societies. Father Spitzer brings to life many examples in history that help make his point. He makes excellent references to compare the Dred Scott Decision with the Roe v. Wade Decision, and the need for personhood to be established by the courts and also using modern science and genetics. He notes that both Supreme Court decision violated all ten principles. This book is a must-read for all people concerned about making our world a better place to live with each other for prosperity, peace, goodness, liberty, and faith. This book offers the best arguments for the pro-life movement, death penalty, and making a good society using many philosophers, theologians, and scientists throughout history to make his case. If you want to be able to make your point about these important subjects in conversation with peers and acquaintances, then you must know this book.
The Ten Universal Principles:
I. Principles of Reason
1) The Principle of Complete Explanation (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) The best opinion or theory is the one that explains the most data.
2) The Principle of Noncontradiction (Plato and Aristotle) Valid opinions or theories have no internal contradictions
3) The Principle of Objective Evidence (Plato and Aristotle) Nonarbitrary opinions or theories are based upon publicly verifiable evidence
II. Principles of Ethics
4) The Principle of Nonmaleficence (Jesus, Moses, and worldwide religious traditions) Aviod unnecessary harms; if a harm is unavoidable, minimize it. Silver Rule: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.
5) The Principle of Consistent Ends and Means (Saint Augustine) The end does not justify the means.
6) The Principle of Full Human Potential (Las Casas) Every human being (or group of human beings) deserves to be valued according to the full level of human development, not according to the level of development currently achieved.
III. Principles of Justice and Natural Rights
7) The Principle of Natural Rights (Suarez, Locke, Jefferson, and Paine) All human beings possess in themselves (by virtue of their existence alone) the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property ownership; no government gives these rights, and no government can take them away.
8) The Principle of the Fundamentality of Rights (Suarez, Locke, and Jefferson) The more fundamental right is the one which is necessary for the possibility of the other; where there is conflict, we should resolve in favor of the more fundamental right.
9) The Principle of the Limits to Freedom (Locke and Montesquieu) One person’s (or group’s) freedoms cannot impose undue burdens upon other persons (or groups).
IV. Fundamental Principle of Identity and Culture
10) The Principle of Beneficence (Jesus) Aim at optimal contribution to others and society. The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Father Spitzer’s Principles and & Culture Curriculum DVD trailer & Cosmic Origins DVD trailer:
Healing The Culture (Changing the Way People Look at Life)