Skip to Content

Coronavirus: Get complete details about the university's response to COVID-19.

Department of Philosophy

  • Banner Image

Barnes Symposium 2020

Note:  This symposium has been moved to Fall 2020.

The Rudolph C. Barnes Sr. Symposium honors his interests and engagement through an annual program examining problems of law and morality understood in the broadest sense. The Barnes family has made the event possible through a generous endowment in his memory.  View previous Barnes Symposia.  (A video of last year's lecture is also available at:


2020 Symposium

The featured speaker for the 2020 Barnes Symposium is Ross Douthat.  He is the author of "The Decadent Society," forthcoming in March 2020.  His other books include "To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism," published in 2018, “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics” (2012), “Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class” (2005), and a co-author, with Reihan Salam, of “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream” (2008). He is the film critic for National Review.

The talk, entitled "The Crisis of Meritocracy", will be in the Fall of 2020.  The public is warmly invited to attend.

Abstract of the talk:   The populism currently roiling global politics is, in part, a rebellion against meritocracy -- a system intended to provide equal opportunity and craft the most talented elite, but which has instead forged a new aristocracy.  This talk will explore how the weaknesses of meritocracy inspire backlash and revolt, but also how a meritocratic system protects itself, thereby creating our current age of  stalemate, where a meritocracy that has lost credibility but still holds power faces off against a populism that rebels but cannot yet rule.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.