Hadley Arkes

Hadley Arkes

Hadley P. Arkes is an American political scientist and the Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, where he has taught since 1966.

Arkes received a B.A. degree at the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago where he was a student of Leo Strauss.

In a series of books and articles dating from the mid-1980s, Arkes has written on moral principles, arguing that they are true and necessary across cultures. He has also dealt with their relation to constitional jurisprudence and natural law, and their challenge to moral relativism. His works draw on political philosophers from Aristotle through the U.S. Founding Fathers, Lincoln, and contemporary authors and jurists.

John O. McGinnis, reviewing Arkes' Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths in The Wall Street Journal, writes that it tries to find a path between the extremes of originalism, where the meaning of the U. S. constitution is fixed by its original text, and the idea of the living constitution, where its meaning is updated by evolving moral principles.

Arkes helped craft the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002. He is also founder and a member of the Committee for the American Founding, a group of Amherst alumni and students seeking to preserve the doctrines of "natural rights" exposited by the American Founders and Lincoln through the Colloquium on the American Founding at Amherst and in Washington, D.C.

In 2010 Arkes, born and raised a Jew, converted to Catholicism, which he described as a fulfillment of his Jewish faith.

Arkes serves on the advisory board and writes for First Things, an ecumenical journal that focuses on encouraging a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.

Read more about Hadley Arkes:  Selected Publications