Enlightenment philosopher David Hume enjoyed a tremendous influence on intellectual history. What did Hume believe, why was it so controversial at the time, and why to many does it seem so common-sensical now? What can Humian thought explain, and where does it fall short? To discuss, Aaron Zubia, Assistant Professor at the University of Florida’s Hamilton Program and 2019-2020 Thomas W. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow here at the Princeton’s James Madison Program joins the show to delve into his new book, The Political Thought of David Hume: The Origins of Liberalism and the Modern Political Imagination (U Notre Dame Press, 2024).

Annika Nordquist is the Communications Coordinator of Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and host of the Program’s podcast, Madison’s Notes.

Despite being one of the most influential women of 17th century France, Marie de Vignerot has been largely forgotten. The niece, heiress, and advisor to the infamous Cardinal Richelieu, Marie was deeply motivated by her Catholic faith, yet never re-married after she became a widow at 18. She shaped France and the French empire’s political, religious, and cultural life as the unconventional and independent Duchesse d’Aiguillon, a position exceedingly uncommon for a woman to possess in her own right. Bronwen McShea joins Madison’s Notes to discuss her book, La Duchesse: The Life of Marie de Vignerot―Cardinal Richelieu’s Forgotten Heiress Who Shaped the Fate of France (Pegasus Books, 2023), the first modern biography of Marie de Vignerot, which discusses her life, motivations, and how and why she was written out of history.

Bronwen McShea is a Visiting Assistant Professor in History at the Augustine Institute Graduate School. She earned her B.A. and M.T.S. at Harvard University and her Ph.D. in history at Yale University, and was a 2018-20 James Madison Program Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University. She is also the author of Apostles of Empire: The Jesuits and New France and Women of the Church (What Every Catholic Should Know).

University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox *01 delves into some of the popular wisdom surrounding marriage and tells us what the data has to say: is it better to marry young or wait? To move in with your partner before or after marriage? Does marriage hurt your career prospects or your ability to set aside time for your own happiness? What groups in America are doing well with regards to marriage, and what groups aren’t doing as well? Along the way, he also addresses some of the political implications of marriage, including how and why marriage trends differ by class and how our tax code often penalizes marriage.

Brad Wilcox is studies marriage, fatherhood, and the impact of strong families. He is a professor of Sociology at the University of Virignia where he also directs the National Marriage Project. He is also a Future of Freedom Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, and a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the recent author of Get Married: Why Americans Should Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families and Save Civilization (Broadside Books, 2024). He received his PhD in Sociology from Princeton in 2001, and is the author of six books. His writing has also been featured in publications including the New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington PostAtlanticNational ReviewFirst Things, and The Free Press.

We have a preponderance of books on leadership in business; yet, despite broad dissatisfaction with our political leaders, almost none on how to be a good statesman. John A. Burtka IV, President and CEO of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, discusses lessons on political leadership from thinkers and leaders throughout history, from Xenophon and Aristotle to Machiavelli, Washington and everyone in between. Along the way, he delves into the differences between the theory and practice of statesmanship, the distinctions between Western and Eastern political advice, whether Christianity makes one a better leader, and why the “Mirrors for Princes” tradition can be helpful for students and leaders in modern democracies.

John A. Burtka IV is the President and CEO of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a non-profit founded in 1953 by William F. Buckley and Frank Chodorov focused on introducing undergraduates to the American tradition of liberty. He earned his BA at Hillsdale College and graduate degree in theology from La Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence, France. His writing has been widely featured in publications including The American Conservative, the Washington PostFirst ThingsThe Dispatch, and the Intercollegiate Review. He recently published an edited collection, Gateway to Statesmanship: Selections from Xenophon to Churchill, which contains excerpts of great thinkers from the ancient, medieval, renaissance, and modern eras designed to teach students about the history of statesmanship.

Robert Kim Henderson, a recently-minted psychology PhD from Cambridge and prominent essayist, had a troubled childhood. A victim of child abuse, he was shuffled through the foster care system, then finally settled in a family in a working-class California town, only to become a child of divorce. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Airforce, and went on to earn his BA from Yale and become a Gates Scholar at Cambridge.

His debut book, Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class (Gallery Books, 2024), delves into his unstable childhood and the ways in which elite Americans misunderstand the nature and challenges of class differences. In this conversation, Rob digs into his book and its implications, discussing the nature and history of American poverty, the prominence of “luxury beliefs,” a term he coined to describe counter-productive beliefs on sex and politics meant to showcase affluence, and why his message has been so poorly received in elite circles, including a discussion of why and how it was excluded from the New York Times best-seller list. Along the way, he delves into pop culture, gives reading recommendations, and more.

Finishing off our series on freedom of speech, renowned historian Niall Ferguson discusses ideological conflict both between America and China and within the United States, and particularly our universities. Along the way, he shares important lessons from academic culture during the World Wars, how history ought to be taught, how optimistic we should be about the future of tech, and, of course, his newest project, the University of Austin.

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, where he served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is the author of 16 books, most recently Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe, which has been short-listed for the Lionel Gelber Prize. He is a founder of the University of Austin, a new university in Austin, TX. His recent essay for The Free Press, “The Treason of the Intellectuals,” referenced during the episode, discusses the role of German academia in the Third Reich.

Dave McCormick *96 has enjoyed incredible success in a wide variety of arenas: after graduating from West Point, where he competed as a varsity wrestler, he served in the Gulf War before going on to earn his PhD here at Princeton in International Relations in 1996. He went on to prominent positions in both the private and public sectors, most notable as CEO of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, and as Under Secretary of Treasury and as Deputy National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush. Now, he’s running for Senate in Pennsylvania. Here, he discusses his recent book: Superpower in Peril: A Battle Plan to Renew America (Center Street, 2023) and his Keystone Plan. Along the way, he goes into not only leadership lessons learned from his career across government, business, and athletics, but also America’s role in world affairs, her global competition with China, and the importance of American innovation.

Annika Nordquist is the Communications Coordinator of Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and host of the Program’s podcast, Madison’s Notes.

How should we think about violent accounts in the Bible? Why did Gandhi urge the Jews to turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism during World War II? What is the reality behind buzz-words like asymmetric warfare and collective punishment that come up so often when discussing events in Gaza? What role should global opinion and the hostage crisis play in Israeli strategy? Is there a moral imperative to win?

Jewish ethicist Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody discusses these questions and more in this discussion of his recent book Ethics of Our Fighters: A Jewish View on War and Morality. This conversation examines how history and ethics bear on modern dilemmas in Gaza, and presents vital information and historical context for thinking about how to respond to the events of October 7.

Why has Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a color-blind society suffered so many recent setbacks? Classical philosopher Andre Archie argues that we need to bring back King’s vision, and points to the ways that the Classical ideas of virtues can inform our modern understanding of virtue as separate from race. Along the way, the conversation covers recent events such as Claudine Gay’s dismissal from Harvard, diversity training and DEI, and the ways in which the Black tradition is an integral part of the Western Tradition.

Dr. Andre Archie is an associate Professor of Ancient Greek Philosophy at Colorado State University, who specializes in the History of Ancient Greek Philosophy and Ancient Greek Political Philosophy. He is the author of The Virtue of Color-Blindness (Regnery Publishing, 2024). His op-eds include “We should fight for a color-blind society — not one separated by race” and “What Makes the Classics Worth Studying,” referenced at the end of the episode as responding to concerns about ridding the Classics of ‘white-ness.’

Can we have science without freedom of speech? Dr. Scott Atlas’s professional work and personal experiences bring to light an important and often under-discussed element of speech: freedom of speech in the hard sciences. The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a host of new questions and concerns surrounding our medical system and government health agencies: as Special Advisor to the President and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force from July to December 2020, Dr. Atlas was at the forefront of such debates. In this conversation, he discusses the importance of debate not only to science itself but also to popular trust in and support of the sciences, which since the pandemic have suffered a steep decline.

Dr. Scott Atlas, MD, is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow in health care policy at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and the co-director of the Global Liberty Institute. In addition to his role in White House he has served as Senior Advisor for Health Care to several numerous candidates for President, as well as counselled members of the U.S. Congress on health care, testified before Congress, and briefed directors of key federal agencies. Before his appointment at Hoover Institution, he was a Professor and Chief of Neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center for 14 years, and he received his medical degree from the University of Chicago School of Medicine. He is the author of numerous books, most recently A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America.

How are Roman political assumptions similar to versus different from our own? What did the Founding Fathers get right and wrong about the Ancients? How did Rome deal with class conflict? Is America Rome? Joining Madison’s Notes to discuss is Duke Classicist Jed Atkins, a specialist in Roman political thought. The conversation convers important differences between Rome’s values and ours, such as their emphasis on hierarchy and honor, the impact of great thinkers like Plutarch and Cicero, and much more.

Jed Atkins is the E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University. He is the author of Roman Political Thought (Cambridge UP, 2018) as well as Cicero on Politics and the Limits of Reason (Cambridge UP, 2020). In November, he gave a lecture at the Madison Program: “Liberalism and the Christian Origins of Tolerance.”

What (and why) can and can’t we say? What do empirical examples both at home and abroad tell us about how we should protect freedom of speech? How do we create an environment where speech is not only permitted but encouraged? Does freedom of speech bring people together or sow discord? Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU and Professor Emerita at New York Law School, brings her decades of expertise to bear explaining why freedom of speech is foundational to so many other fundamental rights.

Nadine Strossen is Professor Emerita at New York Law School, and was national President of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991-2008. She is a Senior Fellow with FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression) and a leading expert and frequent speaker/media commentator on constitutional law and civil liberties, who has testified before Congress on multiple occasions. She is the author of HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship (Oxford UP, 2018) and Free Speech: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford UP, 2023). She is the Host and Project Consultant for Free To Speak, a 3-hour documentary film series released in October. You can also find her remarks “Current Free Speech Controversies” with the Madison Program here.

Today, we have a BONUS episode of Madison’s Notes: the Madison Program’s Executive Director Dr. Shilo Brooks sits down with Dr. Carol Swain to talk about her incredible journey from a childhood in poverty to a career as a prominent political and legal scholar, as well as her new book The Adversity of Diversity: How the Supreme Court’s Decision to Remove Race from College Admissions Criteria Will Doom Diversity Programs (Be People Books, 2023).

Dr. Carol Swain obtained early tenure at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and went on to become a Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University. She was a 2004-5 James Madison Program Visiting Fellow and is a member of the James Madison Society. She has authored or edited 11 books, written numerous opinion pieces in publications including the New York TimesWashington Post, and Wall Street Journal, and been cited three times by the U.S. Supreme Court.

How do we defeat woke ideology and the threat it poses to free speech? Senator Ted Cruz ’92 joins Madison’s Notes to discuss his latest book, Unwoke: How to Defeat Cultural Marxism in America (Regnery Publishing, 2023). Here, Ted discusses how universities, businesses, and other organs of cultural and political life cause woke ideology, what can conservatives do, and some Ted’s favorite memories at Princeton studying under the Madison Program’s Director, Professor Robert P. George.

In addition to his recent book, you can also listen to Senator Cruz on his podcast, Verdict.

How do we defeat woke ideology and the threat it poses to free speech? Senator Ted Cruz ’92 joins Madison’s Notes to discuss his latest book, Unwoke: How to Defeat Cultural Marxism in America (Regnery Publishing, 2023). Here, Ted discusses how universities, businesses, and other organs of cultural and political life cause woke ideology, what can conservatives do, and some Ted’s favorite memories at Princeton studying under the Madison Program’s Director, Professor Robert P. George.

In addition to his recent book, you can also listen to Senator Cruz on his podcast, Verdict.

For thousands of years, the Jewish people lacked a political state; yet, what can we say about the Jewish tradition of statesmanship? What makes it distinctive, and what can we learn from it? In Providence and Power: Ten Portraits in Jewish Statesmanship (Encounter Books, 2023) Rabbi Meir Soloveichik investigates ten Jews, from King David all the way to the foundation of Israel, what we can learn from their examples, and how history can provide hope amidst recent events in Israel.

Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. He received his PhD in Religion at Princeton in 2010. Among the world’s preeminent Jewish thinkers and educators, Rabbi Soloveichik has lectured across the United States and Europe on topics relating to Jewish theology, bioethics, wartime ethics, and Jewish-Christian relations. He has a monthly column in Commentary magazine, and his writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, First Things, and many other outlets. He is the host of the podcast Bible 365, and you can also listen to him via the Meir Soloveichik podcast.

Kicking off our new monthly series on freedom of speech, Keith Whittington and Donald Downs discuss the Princeton Principles for a Campus of Free Inquiry. These principles, outlined by a group of scholars convened by Professor Robert P. George here at the James Madison Program in March 2023, expand on the well-known Chicago Principles in ensuring campus free speech and institutional neutrality.

Professors Whittington and Downs are both among the original fifteen participants and endorsers of the Princeton Principles, and played significant roles in drafting the document. Keith Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, and the author of Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech (Princeton UP, 2019). He specializes in public law and American Politics, and will soon join the faculty of Yale Law School. Donald Downs is the Alexander Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His areas of specialty include freedom of speech, academic freedom, and American politics. Since retiring, Downs has been the lead faculty advisor to the Free Speech and Open Inquiry Project of the Institute for Humane Studies in Washington, D.C.

Proxy wars like those in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine have played major roles in military history. Historian Paul Rahe takes us back to one of the earliest yet most influential proxy wars in the West: Athens’ invasions of Spartan-backed Sicily. Here, he discusses his most recent book, Sparta’s Sicilian Proxy War (Encounter Books, 2023), the fifth in his series “The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta.” Along the way, he explores the structure of ancient Sparta as compared with Athens and with modern America, and what lessons proxy wars in the ancient world can teach us about modern conflicts.

Paul A. Rahe is the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College, and Professor of History. In addition to his series The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, his books include Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American RevolutionAgainst Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory under the English Republic, and Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville and the Modern Prospect.

What is liberalism, and what thinkers shaped it? Does it take a stance on moral and religious issues? What is its relationship with nationalism and populism? Alan Kahan ‘80, Professor of British Civilization at the Université de Paris-Saclay, discusses his latest book Freedom from Fear: An Incomplete History of Liberalism (Princeton UP, 2023). Along the way, he discusses thinkers like Tocqueville, Mill, Locke, and more.

Annika Nordquist is the Communications Coordinator of Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and host of the Program’s podcast, Madison’s Notes.

Amidst increasing acrimony and political strain, many worry that democratic governance has an expiration date. To answer these concerns, Josiah Ober looks to the ancients. Here, he discusses his recent book (co-authored with Brook Manville), The Civic Bargain: How Democracies Survive (Princeton UP, 2023). How did democracies like Athens, Rome, and England overcome the challenges that accompanied wealth and expansion? How did the ancients influence the American Founders? What lessons can they teach us for preserving democracy today?

Josiah Ober is the Constantine Mitsotakis Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. In addition to The Civic Bargain, he is the author of The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens, and The Greeks and the Rational: The Discovery of Practical Reason. He is also the Director of the Stanford Civics Initiative.