On Religion and Rational Control
Bradley Lecture by Harvey C. Mansfield

“Rational control” is the subjection of society to reason as opposed to superstition, prejudice, or tradition, with the aim of getting us to behave better. Alexis de Tocqueville says this idea or practice began with the French monarchy; a more recent example is Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler. Tocqueville thinks that rational control leads to “mild despotism” of the kind he describes in Democracy in America, and he proposes an understanding of religion that would oppose it and provide an alternative that is more favorable to political liberty.

Harvey C. Mansfield is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at AEI. He has written on Edmund Burke and the nature of political parties, on Machiavelli and the invention of indirect government, in defense of a defensible liberalism and in favor of a constitutional American political science. He has also written on the discovery and development of the theory of executive power, and has translated three books of Machiavelli and (with the aid of his wife) Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (University of Chicago Press, 2000). Among his most recent books is Manliness (Yale University Press, 2006). Mr. Mansfield was the chairman of the Harvard Government Department from 1973 to 1977, has held Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, and has been a fellow at the National Humanities Center. He won the Joseph R. Levenson award for his teaching at Harvard, received the Sidney Hook Memorial award from the National Association of Scholars, and, in 2004, accepted a National Humanities Medal from the president. He has hardly left Harvard since his first arrival in 1949, and he has been on its faculty since 1962.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

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