Social Justice

My professional training was primarily in history of Western philosophy: my undergraduate honors thesis on Kant’s ethics, my master’s thesis on Aristotle’s metaphysics, and my Ph.D. dissertation on Plato’s epistemology. Since I view philosophy as the study meanings of evaluations, value theory is central to my work.

Example of a 2014 Workshop & Lecture

Example of a 2014 Workshop & Lecture

I was in college during the escalation of the US war in Vietnam. As an undergraduate I applied for Conscientious Objector status with my local Selective Service board but was denied because I could not document a history of membership in a traditional peace church (as a Quaker, Mennonite, or member of the Church of the Brethren). While a graduate student at Brown University I was active in opposition to the war in Vietnam. I thought about writing my dissertation on nonviolence but was counseled to write on a more traditionally academic topic, in part to be better prepared for the job market and in part because the Brown philosophy department (in 1968-71) would not be supportive of a dissertation so “political,” according to the Graduate Student advisor.

After finishing my Ph.D. and finding a job in 1971, it took me a few years to get comfortable with teaching full-time. By the early 1980s I could finally apply my professional training to my interest in morality and war. I wrote a series of conference presentations on aspects of ethics and violence, revised them into chapters during a sabbatical, and published my first book, From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum in 1989.

My social justice interests have continued on violence and nonviolence, and having finally finished the book on morality and war I turned my teaching and writing to related issues on race, class, gender, and the environment, all areas I continue working on today. I am especially interested in how these issues relate to one another.