What an honor it is be the fourth Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought & Policy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Given the accomplishments of my predecessors, the bar has been set pretty high. But I think I’m up to the challenge.
Months prior to arriving in Boulder on August 13, I worked closely with the CWCTP director Professor Robert Pasnau in helping to secure several outstanding speakers who will address the CU community. Among them are George Yancey (University of North Texas), Joshua Dunn (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs), and Patrick Deneen (University of Notre Dame). On this page over the next several weeks I will tell you more about the particulars of their talks as well as other forthcoming events hosted by CWCTP.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, where my wife, Frankie, grew up as well. (I always get a kick out of telling people that I met and married my wife in Vegas). I earned my PhD in philosophy in 1989 from Fordham University (New York) and a Master of Juridical Studies (MJS) degree in 2001 from the Washington University School of Law (St. Louis). (For more info, see my personal website.)
I’ve published and taught in several academic areas including philosophy of law, philosophy of religion, medical ethics, constitutional law, theology, and philosophy of science. My most recent book is Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which I found out on August 12 has been chosen to receive the American Academy of Religion’s prestigious 2016 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the category of Constructive-Reflective Studies. (I was as surprised as anyone!) Among my other books are (w/ Robert George and Susan McWilliams) A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics (St. Augustine’s Press, 2013); Politics for Christians: Statecraft As Soulcraft (IVP, 2010) and Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
This Fall I’ll be teaching two classes at CU. One of them, Philosophy and Religion, is a lower-division class that introduces students to some of the most interesting philosophical questions about religious belief. There are nearly 40 students enrolled in the course, which is truly amazing. The other course, Thomas Aquinas, is an upper-division class I am team-teaching with Professor Pasnau, one of the leading scholars on Aquinas and medieval philosophy. (As I told him in a private email: “I suspect it will be as much a learning experience for me as it will be a teaching one.”) I have not yet proposed my Spring classes, though I have a great interest in teaching a constitutional law course on law and religion or bioethics and the law (either in the law school or an appropriate department) and a course on political, legal, or social philosophy or applied ethics in the philosophy department. I am open to getting feedback from the CU community on this. So, if any CU students, faculty, or alumni have suggestions, please send them my way.
My wife and I come to you from our humble abode in the outskirts of Waco, Texas, where I serve as Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies at Baylor University. She is a stained-glass artist who serves on the board of the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market. Having been on the visiting faculty at Notre Dame (2008-09) and Princeton (2002-03), we know how important it is to live close to campus so that we can fully participate in university life. So, we are so happy that we were able to secure housing within walking distance of the CU campus.
I am so looking forward to this academic year.