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Life, Liberty, and Property

One mark of impoverished or autocratic societies is a lack of inviolable property rights. Conversely, all free societies have developed schemes of property ownership for individuals and institutions. "Toward a Free and Virtuous Society: Life, Liberty, and Property" is a conference that provides an in-depth, interdisciplinary examination of private property as a necessary component of a society marked by religious, economic, and political liberty.



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Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.
researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon senior research fellow in American principles and public policy at the Heritage Foundation. He is the 2016 recipient of the Acton Institute's Novak Award. He is also the founder and editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute. He is the author of Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (2015) and the co-author of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (2012).

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Paul Bonicelli, Ph.D. serves as director of programs and education at the Acton Institute. Bonicelli has served as provost, dean, and professor at four institutions, and as a foreign policy official and in the executive and legislative branches of the US Government. He is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Bonicelli sits on the boards of two voter education organizations and on the board of a campaign technology company. He writes for Foreign Policy and The Federalist, and provides commentary for Fox Business, CNBC, MSNBC, and BBC radio.

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Samuel Gregg, D.Phil. is director of research at Acton Institute. He writes and speaks frequently on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural-law theory. His latest book is For God and Profit: How Finance and Banking Can Serve the Common Good (2016).

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Adam J. MacLeod, J.D. is associate professor at Faulkner University, Jones School of Law; a Thomas Edison fellow in the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property at George Mason University; and a former visiting fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is co-editor of Foundations of Law (Carolina Academic Press 2017) and author of Property and Practical Reason (Cambridge University Press 2015) and dozens of scholarly articles and essays. He holds degrees from Gordon College and the University of Notre Dame Law School.

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Gerald McDermott, Ph.D. joined the Beeson faculty in 2015 as the Anglican professor of divinity and teaches in the areas of history and doctrine. He is the author, co-author or editor of eighteen books. His academic focus has been three-fold: Jonathan Edwards, Christian understandings of other religions, and the meaning of Israel. As a renowned Edwards scholar, McDermott has produced six books on Edwards; his Theology of Jonathan Edwards (coauthored with Michael McClymond) won Christianity Today’s 2013 award for top book in theology/ethics.

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Catherine Pakaluk, Ph.D. is assistant professor of economics at The Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America. Formerly, she was assistant professor and chair of the economics department at Ave Maria University. She is the 2015 recipient of the Acton Institute’s Novak Award and earned her doctorate in economics at Harvard University (2010). Her primary areas of research include Catholic social thought, political economy, economics of education and religion, family studies, and demography.

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Stephen Presley, Ph.D. holds degrees from Baylor University, Dallas Seminary, and the University of St. Andrews. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Church History and Director of the Southwestern Center for Early Christian Studies. He teaches a variety of graduate and postgraduate courses in Church History and Patristics at Southwestern. His research and teaching are intentionally interdisciplinary and he integrates Biblical Studies, theology and history. His areas of research include early Christian theology and exegesis, the church fathers, second century, historical theology, biblical theology, and history of biblical interpretation.

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Rev. Robert A. Sirico is the president and co-founder of the Acton Institute and the pastor at Sacred Heart of Jesus parish, both in Grand Rapids, Mich. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalForbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. He is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others. In his popular book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, he shows how a free economy is the best way to meet society’s material needs. He holds dual Italian and American citizenship.

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John D. Wilsey, Ph.D. serves as affiliate scholar in theology and history for the Acton Institute. He is also associate professor of history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and will serve as a William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University for the 2017-18 academic year. John's research area is in American church history, specifically the history of American religious nationalism and Christianity and public life. He is the author of two books and editor of a recently released abridgment of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. He is presently writing a religious biography of John Foster Dulles for Eerdmans' Library of Religious Biography.

About Toward a Free and Virtuous Society Conferences

The Acton Institute's Toward a Free and Virtuous Society (FAVS) Conferences are opportunities for a small, select number of participants to spend several days together exploring the moral foundations of a free society with a diverse group of participants and Acton experts. FAVS may run for three or four days and are tailored to specific audiences or to address specific aspects of the Institute's work. Registration is by invitation via application, and links to applications along with conference details will be available on the event information page.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


The Inn at Swarthmore
10 South Chester Road
Swarthmore, PA 19081
United States


View the full schedule in the link provided below.


This is a complimentary event.
Accepted applicants will receive meals, lodging, and a travel stipend*.

*Travel stipends will only be provided for travel within North America.

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