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Determinism, Dependency, and the Irreducible Person

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acton-commentary-blogimage“Sociological determinism informs our public policy,” says Ismael Hernandez in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Those with a stake in the maintenance and expansion of government bureaucracies feed upon pathology and find a willing constituency among those who perceive the world in terms of victims and perpetrators.”

If men are not free, they are not responsible for their misdeeds and ought instead to be treated with pity for falling prey to tragic misfortunes. They are to be healed by those who understand their powerlessness. Such enabling has produced a host of psychotherapeutic terms and treatments attempting to explain every human condition and every degrading act.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • Nice article! It’s clear from a history of socialism that the atheists and deists who invented socialism did so by basing it on a new definition of human nature. Until the “Enlightenment” the West understood human nature in Biblical terms, using original sin. All people had the potential within their nature for great good and enormous evil. The person had to choose which. Society could do little more than reward and punish behavior. Only God could change human nature.

    Socialists decided without evidence that people are born good and turn evil only because of oppression. Property oppressed the most. The state could restore humanity to its original good nature by eliminating all oppression. They had to get rid of property and make everyone equal in terms of material wealth and that would end all evil. But when socialism was actually adopted in Germany and then Russia, it became clear that the state would need to force many people to embrace their inner goodness.

    Helmut Schoeck has shown in his “Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior” that envy is pervasive in humanity and that materially equality does not reduce envy but inflames it. He shows that only Christianity has ever tamed envy.

    Douglass North demonstrated in his New Institutional Economics that socialism is not progressive but a regression to the most ancient and robust forms of organizing society in which a king and nobility keep the masses equally poor through theft of the property of anyone who rises above their fellow man.

    Larry Seidentop showed in “Inventing the Individual” that Christianity created the individualism that conquered envy and created the modern, scientific and wealthy West.

  • Marit Opsahl

    Why is the full text removed