School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications

Nine Libertarian Heresies that Tempt Neo-Conservative Catholics to Stray from Catholic Social Teaching

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2011


Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Economics | Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences


"For the last four decades, a number of “neoconservative” Christian scholars have worked to great benefit in articulating the moral foundations of capitalism and its positive moral effects in socializing market participants. This has been much-needed work, as the Christian churches still have not grappled adequately with the systematic moral defense of self-interest in market relationships that has been employed in secular thought for three hundred years. At the same time, however, many involved in this affirmation of capitalism have too easily found common cause with others on the political right, in particular libertarians, whose fundamental view of the human person and morality is at odds with a Christian and, in particular, a Catholic view of life. There is no doubt that we need markets and economic freedom, individual ownership of property (including businesses), personal economic initiative, individual creativity, and a host of other things advocated by the people I will be criticizing in this essay. The point is that we cannot adequately sort out issues we face as people of faith unless we have a careful and self-critical understanding of religious social thought, something that neoconservative Catholics too often do not exhibit. The focus of this essay is not simply the selectivity of neoconservatives but on how unacknowledged libertarian presumptions in their work distort Catholic thinking. It is out of a need for a balanced affirmation of markets that I criticize those who advocate markets most energetically."


Philip Booth and Samuel Gregg wrote response articles to Finn's "Nine Libertarian Heresies that Tempt Neo-Conservative Catholics to Stray from Catholic Social Teaching" in the Spring 2012 issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality (15.1). Finn's rejoinder to their articles was published as the following:

Finn, Daniel K. "Private Property, Self-Regulation, and Just Price: A Response to Philip Booth and Samuel Gregg." Journal of Markets & Morality 15, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 325-328.