What does it mean to be a Catholic university? This well-worn question emerges even more than usual these days in the face of budget cuts and increasing competition in higher education, as these universities have to identify what unique feature they offer prospective students that justifies their higher tuition costs. Alasdair MacIntyre, perhaps the most influential living philosopher, believes the answer to this question involves a significant place for the Catholic philosophical tradition.
MacIntyre begins his excellent book by raising a paradox for the Catholic Christian: her faith requires her to give unqualified trust to God but she simultaneously poses systematic questions about the God she claims to trust. These questions take the form of traditional philosophical problems for theists, such as the problem of evil, the relationship of body and soul, and how to speak meaningfully of a transcendent being. Thus MacIntyre identifies an apparent tension between faith and reason, a tension that the Catholic philosophical tradition wishes to dissolve.