Do You Believe in Natural Rights? - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Do You Believe in Natural Rights?

The best of intellectual conservative thought, every Thursday. Subscribe here to receive the Intercollegiate Review in your inbox every week.


The Self-Loathing of Ideologists

When’s the last time you read Kenneth Minogue?

The question assumes you could get your hands on one of his books, which are increasingly hard to find.

Yet one of his works may be more relevant now than when it was written.

In Alien Powers: The Pure Theory of Ideology, Minogue describes the ways ideologists of every stripe interpret and interact with society.

He may even have predicted the rise of modern deconstructionism and critical theory.

“Minogue provides the blueprints of a machine for rolling your own ideology: choose an oppressor (capitalists, the patriarchy, heteronormativity, Jews, colonialism, white people), turn the crank, and you have a movement.”

Sound familiar?

Writing for the New Criterion, David Guaspari explores Minogue’s arguments about ideology and shows how prescient his insights truly were.

Give it a read and let us know if you agree with Minogue’s conclusion that ideology is “the purest possible expression of European civilization’s capacity for self-loathing.”




Whose Right Is It Anyway?

Do you believe in natural rights?

That has long been a controversial question.

The left has taken up the mantle of rights to argue for everything from universal healthcare to the redefinition of marriage.

This has caused many conservatives to rethink what “natural rights” means.

If that sounds like you, then you’re going to love Brad Littlejohn’s review of Nigel Biggar’s new book, What’s Wrong with Rights?

Littlejohn describes Biggar’s meticulous examination of the history and philosophy behind rights language.

In this review, you’ll find out:

  • how natural rights differ from legal rights and moral rights
  • why rights are sometimes used to limit liberty
  • what the Founders got wrong in their understanding of rights
  • how “rights-fundamentalism” can lead to utopianism
  • why questions of sovereignty and rights are often at odds
  • how judicial tyrants use rights language

If you’re looking for a reasoned approach to the question of natural rights, this is the article for you.



Because our student editors and writers are bravely bringing conservative ideas to their campuses, we’re highlighting their efforts here.

Dear Incoming Student Government: You Owe Your Jewish Constituents an Apology via the Chicago Thinker

Alumni Spotlight: Peggy Grande, Author and Former Executive Assistant to Ronald Reagan via the Pepperdine Beacon


Russell Kirk’s “Unfounded” America or Harry Jaffa’s “Founded” America?

We have a real treat for you this week: Russell Kirk vs. Harry Jaffa.

Both these men are highly regarded in the conservative movement, and for good reason.

But Kirk and Jaffa had a serious disagreement about the American Founding.

In this Intercollegiate Review classic, John F. Fitzgerald pays homage to both men by presenting the strongest version of their arguments.

Kirk believed that the American Founding was rooted in the cultural history of the West. In order to understand what the Founders envisioned, we must look to our cultural traditions.

But is culture really a better guide than reason?

Jaffa taught that the American Founding was foremost about how reason could discern man’s true nature and the need for a rule of law, one that enabled us to live “in accordance with the perfection of man’s nature.”

Read the article and then ask yourself who’s closer to the Founding truth.



The Future of American Political Economy Conference, July 23–24


ISI has a long legacy of providing the space for conservatives of all stripes to debate how to apply enduring principles to current problems.

One of the biggest questions facing conservatives today is whether we need to rethink our approach to the economy.

That’s why ISI is hosting The Future of American Political Economy Conference July 23–24 in Alexandria, Virginia.

During this weekend conference, you’ll hear from an all-star roster of conservative thinkers as they discuss solutions to Big Tech censorship, our troubling trade relationship with China, and a market economy that seems increasingly anti-family.

If you’re currently a student, admission is free! And tickets are only $50 for registrants under 30!

Reserve your spot now to hear prominent speakers like:

  • J. D. Vance, author of the #1 bestseller Hillbilly Elegy—who is considering a run for the U.S. Senate
  • Senator Marco Rubio
  • Amity Shlaes, bestselling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidge
  • Jeff Sessions, former U.S. attorney general
  • Judge Neomi Rao
  • . . . and more than a dozen others!

It’s time to stop talking past each other and start doing the hard work of creating a new conservative consensus about how our economy can better advance the safety and happiness of the American people.



“Hysterical optimism will prevail until the world again admits the existence of tragedy, and it cannot admit the existence of tragedy until it again distinguishes between good and evil.”
―Richard Weaver




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