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Philosophy & Religion | Current Faculty Research

Evan Berry

Evan Berry's research inquires about the place of religion in a globalizing world, focusing on the engagement of religious ideas and institutions with environmental issues. This orientation incorporates two bodies of scholarly knowledge: one concerning the intersection of religion and politics in the modern world, and another considering the implications of theological ethics on human ecological beliefs and behaviors. Beginning with the premise that religion and religious ideas serve to locate human beings in the natural order, his scholarship concentrates on the cultural particularities of environmental ethics—the ways that different religious perspectives generate divergent society / environment relations. Pursuing these questions through both ethnography and philosophical reflection, his current work includes a study of religious civil society groups actively engaged with the challenge of climate change. His book, Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism was recently published by the University of California Press.

Ellen Feder

Ellen Feder's research works at the intersection of ethics and continental philosophy. She researches ethical problems involved with the medical management of children with atypical sex, that is, children who are neither clearly male nor female. Her current research project, "The Trouble with Intersex," brings to bear the theoretical tools of thinkers such as Nietzsche, Bourdieu, Foucault, and Merleau-Ponty, in order to make a case, not for resisting the medicalization of Disorders of Sex Development, but to argue that DSDs should be regarded in medicine "normally," that is to say, not as rare and unusual cases that justify extraordinary medical practices, but as "disorders like many others."

Gershon Greenberg

Gershon Greenberg's current research probes Jewish religious thought during the Holocaust. For some three decades after liberation from the camps, western scholarship presumed that the trauma of the catastrophe was so great that Jewish thinkers could not have responded at the time or in the immediate aftermath. Greenberg's discoveries and analyses of texts and manuscripts from Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, as well as from England, Palestine, America, and Shanghai, have shed new light on the Holocaust and the history of modern Jewish thought. Greenberg recently published Modern Jewish Thinkers from Mendeslssohn to Rosenzweig (Academic Studies Press, 2011).

Kimberly Leighton

Professor Leighton's research interests are bioethics, ethical theory, and practical ethics. Her work in the area of bioethics addresses the ethical implications of biotechnology and medicine, while it also examines the effects such real-world practices have on the discipline of ethics itself. She has a particular interest in technologies concerning human reproduction including genetics, reproductive medicine, and adoption. Two questions that motivate her current research are: How does assisted reproduction shift our understanding of what it is to be "related" to someone else? And, given the growth in genetic science and medicine, is their moral value in knowing one's genetics? In her current research project, Professor Leighton analyzes recent arguments about the ethics of egg and sperm donation especially as they rely on the idea that people have a "right to know" their genetic parents. An example of what she sees as the social importance of applied ethics, this work aims to expose the assumptions behind and implications of such arguments for our everyday understandings of what is a family and who is a parent.

Amy Oliver

Professor Oliver's research focuses on Latin American and Spanish philosophy, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of literature. While many of her publications analyze modern Mexican thought, her current project is a book on Redressing the Sexual Balance: The Affirmative Feminism of Carlos Vaz Ferreira, an analysis of the Uruguayan philosopher's pioneering early twentieth-century essay on feminist cultural criticism, including an English translation of his essay. Vaz Ferreira's thought is also situated and contrasted in terms of his Continental and pragmatist contemporaries and major texts.

Martyn Oliver

Martyn Oliver's work explores religion's role in the construction of identity for both self and other. His current project examines how Alf layla wa layla, or The Thousand and One Nights, was used as a primary source for European conceptions of Islam and Muslims. Of particular interest is how early scholars in the nascent field of religious studies used medieval literary texts—often of composite origin—to make claims about religious, ethnic, and cultural essentialism. This research has additionally led to two related projects. The first regards the peculiar space that the study of Islam occupies in institutes of higher learning, in particular, tensions between religious studies, area studies, and our interest in contemporary geo-political affairs. The second examines representations of Islam and Muslims in American literature since the early 19th century.

Jin Park

Dr. Park's research interests include East Asian Zen and Huayan Buddhism, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist-Western comparative philosophy, and Buddhist encounters with modernity. At the core of these projects lies the question of how to understand Buddhist philosophy and religion in the context of modern and contemporary society. In her examination of Buddhism's encounter with modernity in East Asia, Dr. Park investigates diverse changes that Buddhism has adopted in order to make it relevant to changing social environments. By discussing Buddhism in comparison with contemporary postmodern discourse, Dr. Park considers a Buddhist-postmodern paradigm in dealing with such issues as gender, ethnicity, and conflict resolutions. With the analysis of the unique nature of Buddhist philosophy, Dr. Park proposes a constructive Buddhist ethics that reveals a Buddhist ethical paradigm both in theory and practice.

Shubha Pathak

Shubha Pathak currently is researching the new ways in which the ancient Roman and Indian epic poets Ovid and Kalidasa regard their most powerful traditional divinities: the gods' king, Jupiter, and the divine destroyer Shiva. The poets, by portraying these fierce deities primarily as loving beings rather than as enforcers of societal norms, reveal the reverential aspects of the epics in which the gods appear, the Metamorphoses and the Kumarasambhava and Raghuvamsha. These works thus offer their own theologies distinct from those of the primary epics of the Greco-Roman and Hindu traditions—namely, the Iliad and Odyssey and the Ramayana and Mahabharata, all of which are norm-focused poems authored by poetic collectivities. Ovid's and Kalidasa's epic innovations attest the abilities of these individual poets to assert their own religious identities while residing in the capital cities ruled by their imperial patrons.

Jeffrey Reiman

Dr. Reiman's research focuses on ethics, political philosophy, and public policy. He is developing a theory of justice, called "Marxian Liberalism," which joins the liberal idea that people have a natural right to liberty, understood as a right to be free from unwanted coercion, with the Marxian idea that private property is coercive. He is working as well on the tenth edition of his book on ideology and economic bias in the US criminal justice system, focusing in particular on how dangerous acts of the poor are treated as crimes while the dangerous acts of the rich are treated as regulatory matters. He has recently completed essays on the ethics of racial profiling, the social contract as a means to identify the requirements of justice, the moral status of abortion, and on the legitimate state and the moral obligation to obey the law.

Andrea Tschemplik

Andrea Tschemplik's research thus far has been focused in Ancient Philosophy, in particular on Plato. She is currently working on tracing connections between Plato and Kant on the questions of knowledge, morality, and aesthetics. The point of this research is not to show that Kant is a "mere footnote" to Plato but rather to argue that the intersection of these two great thinkers reveals something about the structure of human thinking as such. In addition, she is also interested in investigating how 20th Century philosophers, such as Deleuze, Foucault, and Agamben, are in conversation with Plato's writings.

Lauren Weis

Lauren Weis researches the intersections of feminist theory, metaphysics, and epistemology. Her current project explores the claim that an effective ethics of embodiment must be predicated upon sound method in metaphysics. She argues that philosophical understanding of the moral complexities of human embodiment can be grounded in the dynamic metaphysics of emergence articulated by twentieth century thinker Bernard Lonergan. This approach, attentive to the dynamic operations of human consciousness, will allow feminists to effectively critique biased social and political schemes through a concrete, normative, and critical account of objectivity.

Recent Publications and Delivered Papers

Berry, E. (July 2015). Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism. University of California Press (Refereed)

Erfani, F. (2014). "Cosmopolitanism: Neither For, Nor Against, To the Contrary," in Iran, Iranians, and Becoming Cosmopolitan: Spheres of Belonging (Stone, Lucien, eds.) 

Feder, E. (2014). Making Sense of Intersex: Changing Ethical Perspectives in Biomedicine (Indiana University Press) (Refereed) 

Greenberg, G. (2014). "The Rise of Hitler, Zion and the Tribulation: Between Christian Zionism and Orthodox Judaism," in Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison (Robert O. Smith and Goran Gunner, eds.) p. 38, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press 

Leighton, K. (2014). "Accepting Adoption's Uncertainty: The Limited Ethics of Pre-Adoption Genetic Testing," International Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 11(2), pp. 245-60. (Refereed) 

Oliver, Amy A. (2014) "Context and Kant in the Aesthetics of Jose Enrique Rodo and Samuel Ramos," Sympsium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 18(1), pp. 65-76 (Refereed)

Park, J. Y. (2014). Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun: Essays by Zen Master Kim Iryop (University of Hawaii Press) 

Pathak, S. (2014). Divine Yet Human Epics: Reflections of Poetic Rulers from Ancient Greece and India (Center for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University;distributed by Harvard University Press). (Refereed) 

Tschemplik, A., "Painting the Republic," Society of Ancient Greek Philosophy, SAGP, Fordham University, New York. Refereed. (October 18, 2014)