The 2022 Calihan Lecture and 22nd Annual Novak Award Presentation

Acton Institute presents the 2022 Calihan Lecture and 22nd Annual Novak Award Presentation,

co-sponsored by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Dr. Erik Matson will receive the Novak Award and present a lecture on "Economics and the Moral Theology of Mutual Benefits"

The Novak Award is made possible by the generosity of the late Joseph L. Calihan and his family and is named in honor of the distinguished American theologian and social philosopher Michael Novak. The Novak Award rewards new outstanding research by scholars early in their academic careers who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit in advancing the understanding of theology’s connection to human dignity, the importance of limited government, religious liberty, and economic freedom. Recipients of the Novak Award make a formal presentation on such questions at an annual public forum known as the Calihan Lecture. The Novak Award forms part of a range of academic grants and awards available from the Acton Institute that support those engaged in serious reflection and research on the relationship between theology, the free market, limited government and the rule of law. Details of these academic grants may be found here.

Dr. Matson's lecture will explore how in the British tradition, political economy, which partly emerged out of discourses in natural theology, ethics and jurisprudence, casts some light on the content of our moral obligations. Drawing on Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith, he will discuss how commerce in the eighteenth century came to be depicted as a mode of cooperation—either literally with God or metaphorically with our fellow human beings—through which we serve the common good. That depiction energized the emerging authorization of commercial enterprise, helping to illustrate the virtue of what Deirdre McCloskey calls the “bourgeois virtues,” an understanding which contributed to the Great Enrichment. The depiction continues to edify business as a calling and elaborate how freedom serves the good of humankind.


5:00 p.m. | Reception

6:00 p.m. | Programming

  • Welcome
  • 2022 Calihan Lecture and Q&A
  • Presentation of the Novak Award

7:00 p.m. | Conclusion