“Can it be morally permissible to assert a falsehood in service of a good cause?”

That is the question two visiting philosophers will discuss in the Spring Disputation that will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 5, in the first-floor auditorium of the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Dr. Christopher Kaczor

Dr. Christopher Kaczor

Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by the university’s Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy, and the Master’s Program of the Department of Catholic Studies. For more information call the department at (651) 962-5704 or visit its website.

Universities first arose in the Middle Ages as an expression of serious intellectual inquiry. At such universities, masters of theology, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, had three principal duties: preaching, expounding the Gospel and conducting disputations.

A disputation is described as a probing, public examination of a controversial question. The questions are meant to address current intellectual difficulties about which faithful minds may be earnestly divided.

Dr. Christopher Tollefsen

Dr. Christopher Tollefsen

The visiting philosophers for the May 5 disputation are Dr. Christopher Kaczor and Dr. Christopher Tollefsen. Kaczor is professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University and author of The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice. Tollefsen is professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.  His latest book, co-written with Robert George, is Embryo: A Defense of Human Life.

The question asked in the May 5 disputation is raised in light of several widely publicized “sting” operations that involved audio or video tapes that were secretly recorded. Examples have involved Planned Parenthood, ACORN, National Public Radio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.