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A Response to Michael Novak’s “Human Dignity, Personal Liberty”



In his valuable contribution, Novak refers to what he calls four salient principles of Catholic social thought, which already can be seen in Rerum Novarum. The principle of personal agency and responsibility is at the cornerstone, and the other three principles that flow from this fundamental motive are, in his view (and in my shorthand): a spirited defense of private property, an emphasis on personal initiative and enterprise, and a condemnation of socialism as unjust and contrary to nature. His overview leads, I think, to an interesting question, especially in this conference about the legacy of these two pioneers. And that is the question, whether Abraham Kuyper had indeed the same principles in mind as Novak states, when he spoke about Rerum Novarum and its principles? Or had he a somewhat different appreciation of the social principles that are common to all Christians?

Bob Goudzwaard, "A Response to Michael Novak's 'Human Dignity, Personal Liberty,' " Journal of Markets & Morality 5, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 113-125

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