Friends of the Project
Robert M. Adams
Robert Merrihew Adams is a distinguished philosopher, known for his work in the philosophy of religion, the history of philosophy (especially the 17th and 18th centuries), ethical theory, and metaphysics. Adams received his AB in philosophy from Princeton in 1959, BA in theology from Oxford in 1961, and Ph.D in Philosophy from Cornell in 1969. Over the years he has taught at various institutions, including the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, UCLA, Yale, Oxford, UNC-Chapel Hill, Rutgers, and Princeton Theological Seminary.
Kamal Ahmed is a Research Collaborator with Andrew Chignell on “Building Collaborative Research Networks Across the Islamic Scholarly Tradition and Western Philosophy,” a project funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Affiliated with the Center for the Study of Religion, his research will draw on philosophy and intellectual history to carefully bring several Muslim thinkers from the 10th to 12th centuries, such as al-Māturīdī, al-Bāqillānī, al-Ghazālī, and al-Rāzī into conversation with Western philosophical traditions in the areas of epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of religion. In 2017-18, he taught in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. His doctoral dissertation at Oxford examines the interplay between rationality and scriptural texts in early Islamic legal epistemology.
Toni is an ethicist whose research and teaching span religious studies, philosophy, political theory, theology, law, and Late Antique culture. His dissertation, Slaves of God, provides a novel interpretation of Augustine’s political thought, focusing on the centrality of slavery to Augustine’s conceptions of citizenship, law, and religion. Three crucial figures in this tradition for Augustine are Cicero, Seneca, and Lactantius. He is working on a second project on the structure, ethics, and politics of covenants. This builds on his forthcoming article in the Journal of Religious Ethics, which argues that divine covenants can generate obligations irreducible to those that arise from divine commands.
Before beginning doctoral work, Toni received the M.A.R. in Ethics from Yale Divinity School, and the A.B. in Religion from Princeton University.
Leora Batnitzky joined the faculty in 1997. Her teaching and research interests include philosophy of religion, modern Jewish thought, hermeneutics, and contemporary legal and political theory. In 2002 she received Princeton’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. She is the author of Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered (Princeton, 2000), Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of Revelation (Cambridge, 2006), and How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought (Princeton, 2011). She is currently working on two books, the first a comparative study of conversion controversies in Israel and India, tentatively titled “What is Religious Freedom? The Case of Conversion in Israel and India,” and the second on the Jewish apostate and Catholic saint Edith Stein, tentatively titled “The Continued Relevance of Edith Stein for Jewish and Christian Self-Understanding.” She is co-editor, with Ilana Pardes, of The Book of Job: Aesthetics, Ethics and Hermeneutics (de Gruyter, 2014), with Hanoch Dagan, of Institutionalizing Rights and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2017), with Yonatan Brafman, of an anthology Jewish Legal Theories (Brandies Library of Modern Jewish Thought, 2018) and, with Ra’anan Boustan, of the journal Jewish Studies Quarterly. Along with Vivian Liska and Ilana Pardes, she is co-director of the international Center for Bible, Culture, and Modernity, https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/projects/bible-culture-modernity/. She served as Chair of the Department of Religion from 2010-2019.
Lara Buchak is a Professor in the Philosophy Department at Princeton University. Her research interests include decision theory, social choice theory, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of religion. Her current project in philosophy of religion is on the nature and rationality of faith. She argues that faith requires stopping one's search for evidence and making a commitment--and maintaining one's commitment in the face of counterevidence. She details when such faith is rational, and how it is beneficial to human life. Related projects discuss the proper response to disagreement about religious matters, the nature of conversion, and the nature of authority in religious communities. Other topics she has written on include how an individual ought to take risk into account when making decisions; the relationship between assigning probability to a hypothesis and believing that hypothesis outright; distributive ethics; and the nature of free will.
Andrew Chignell joined the faculty in 2018 as Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor, with appointments in Religion, Philosophy, and the University Center for Human Values. Chignell's work to date focuses on Immanuel Kant and other modern European philosophers, philosophy of religion, the moral psychology of hope and despair, aesthetics, and the ethics of belief. He also has an interest in food ethics, and recently co-produced (with Will Starr at Cornell) a Massive Open Online Course on “The Ethics of Eating” for EdX.org
Over the last few years I have published papers on neglected conceptions of God (such as apophaticism), the messy and heterogeneous nature of religious beliefs, responses to the problem of evil based on dreaming and on divine intimacy, and on the virtues necessary for being a good philosopher. I’ve also published scholarly editions of a number of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s works (including Lectures, Cambridge 1930-1933: from the Notes of GE Moore, CUP, 2016). Currently I'm working on a book about Wittgenstein’s lifelong attempt to discover and enact a way to live well in the face of the terrifying fragility of everything we hold dear. I’m also writing papers about the phenomenon of ‘theapathy’ (i.e. being utterly indifferent to God), the possibility of theism without metaphysical commitments, and the nature of philosophical revolutions. Copies of some of my papers can be found here.
Ryan Darr is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Philosophy of Religion at the University Center for Human Values and a lecturer in the Department of Religion. Ryan is an ethicist whose research and teaching draws from philosophy, theology, and intellectual history. He is currently completing a manuscript on the theological origins of utilitarian moral philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He is also working on a second project that addresses the complications posed to individual moral agency and responsibility by moral problems that are structural in nature, especially climate change. His articles can be found in Environmental Ethics, Studies in Christian Ethics, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and Journal of Religious Ethics. He holds a Master’s in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University.
Alexander Englert joins the Princeton community as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Philosophy of Religion after earning his Ph.D. in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University. He investigates the intersection of natural philosophy, ethics, and metaphysics in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the German Idealist tradition. Currently, he is studying this intersection through Kant’s Opus Postumum, as well as in relation to Kant’s argument for the immortality of the soul and the highest good. He has been published in Hegel Bulletin, Hegel-Studien, and Kantian Review.
Daniel Garber joined the Philosophy Department faculty at Princeton in 2002. He is also an Associate Member of both the Program in History of Science and the Politics Department. Garber's principal interests are the relations between philosophy, science, religion, and society in the period of the Scientific Revolution. Garber is the author of Descartes' Metaphysical Physics (1992) and Descartes Embodied (2001), and is co-editor with Michael Ayers of the Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy (1998). More recently he published Leibniz: Body, Substance, Monad (2009). Garber is also the co-editor with Donald Rutherford of Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, an annual. He is currently working on a variety of topics, including studies of Aristotelianism and its opponents in early seventeenth-century France. In addition, he is the editor-in-chief of a new edition of the works of the seminal seventeenth-century thinker, Jacobus Fontialis.
Jonathan C. Gold is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion. A scholar of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, he is especially interested in Buddhist approaches to meaning, ethics, language and learning. He is the author of The Dharma’s Gatekeepers: Sakya Paṇḍita on Buddhist Scholarship in Tibet (2007) and Paving the Great Way: Vasubandhu’s Unifying Buddhist Philosophy (2015) as well as numerous articles, including the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entries on Vasubandhu and Sakya Paṇḍita. He is co-editor, with Douglas S. Duckworth, of Readings of Śāntideva’s Guide to Bodhisattva Practice (Bodhicaryāvatāra) (2019). In his current work he is developing a Buddhist approach to politics and social thought.
Eric Gregory joined the faculty in 2001, and was promoted to Professor in 2009. He is the author of Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship (University of Chicago Press, 2008), and articles in a variety of edited volumes and journals, including the Journal of Religious Ethics, Studies in Christian Ethics, and Augustinian Studies. His interests include religious and philosophical ethics, theology, political theory, law and religion, and the role of religion in public life. In 2007 he was awarded Princeton’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. A graduate of Harvard College, he earned an M.Phil. and Diploma in Theology from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his doctorate in Religious Studies from Yale University. He has received fellowships from the Erasmus Institute, University of Notre Dame, the Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, Harvard University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization at New York University School of Law. Among his current projects is a book tentatively titled, The In-Gathering of Strangers: Global Justice and Political Theology, which examines secular and religious perspectives on global justice. At Princeton at large, he is chair of the Council of the Humanities. He is also director of the Program in Humanistic Studies and Stewart Seminars in Religion, and sits with the executive committee of the University Center for Human Values. He also serves on the the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Ethics.
Hans Halvorson is a professor in the Department of Philosophy. His primary research has been in logic and in the philosophy of science. His interests in the philosophy of religion include work on the relationship between religion and science, as well as interest in the thought of historical figures such as Kant and Kierkegaard.
Katie Javanaud is a visiting lecturer and scholar in PPPR and the Department of Religion, affiliated with the University Centre for Human Values. Katie’s research focuses on cross-cultural philosophy and religion and her areas of specialism include Buddhism and Jainism. She recently completed her D.Phil at the University of Oxford where, for her doctoral dissertation, she addressed the free will problem through the application of Madhyamaka Buddhist conceptual resources. Katie is also interested in areas of applied ethics, especially in environmental ethics and animal rights. Her publications appear in The Journal of Buddhist Ethics, The Journal of Indian Philosophy, The Journal of Animal Ethics and Aeon magazine.
Mark Johnston is the Henry Putnam University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University and Director of the Program in Cognitive Science. He is the author of many influential and widely reprinted articles in ontology, philosophy of mind, philosophical logic, and ethics, along with Particulars and Persistence (Princeton, Ph.D. 1984), Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2009) and Surviving Death (Princeton University Press, 2010). The last two works aim to salvage religious aspiration from its idolatrous lookalikes. In October 2019 at the University of St. Andrews he delivered The Hard God, his Gifford Lectures on the ontological basis for the equal moral status of all human beings, the origin of evil, and the hope for a final justice on the far side of death. In November 2019 at UC Berkeley, he delivered The Manifest, his Townsend Lectures on the nature of perception and its distinctive implications for the mind-body problem. In 2022 he will deliver the Stanton Lectures at the University of Cambridge.
Elizabeth is a postdoctoral research associate. Her research engages perspectives from philosophy, theology, religion, and the history of ideas with particular focus on nineteenth century thought and Søren Kierkegaard. She is interested in questions related to the relationship between philosophy, religion, and theology, and the ethical and epistemological value of ambiguity and difficulty. Elizabeth holds a BA in Philosophy from Roskilde University and a DPhil in Theology from the University of Oxford. She has published in journals such as the Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook and International Journal of Philosophy and Theology.
My research aims to address basic questions about learning, reasoning, and decision-making using the empirical tools of experimental psychology and the conceptual tools of analytic philosophy. Accordingly, much of my work is informed by philosophy of science, epistemology, and moral philosophy alongside cognitive, social, and developmental psychology. To illustrate, one strand of research in my laboratory has focused on the human drive to explain. Why are we so compelled to explain some aspects of our social and physical environment, but not others? How does the process of seeking explanations affect learning, and how does the quality of an explanation affect our judgments and decisions? Do these features of explanation help us achieve particular epistemic goals? Or do they sometimes lead us astray, leading to errors in our reasoning and decision-making? Other projects target different topics — including our intuitive beliefs about causation, moral responsibility, and the nature of knowledge — but involve a similar interplay between descriptive questions about human thought and behavior and normative and conceptual issues that arise within philosophy and psychological theory.
Daniel Rubio joined the PPPR as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in 2019 after completing his doctorate in philosophy from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He has research interests in metaphysics, decision theory, epistemology, ethics, logic, and the philosophy of religion. Some of his ongoing projects include papers on the badness of death, on the nature and structure of theoretical virtue, on persistence across time, and on the existence of created intrinsic value. His work has appeared in venues such as Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomonological Research, and the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Denys Turner works mainly in two distinct fields: that of the medieval traditions of Christian theology and in the philosophy of religion, and, in both connections, on issues of theological epistemology. He began an academic career as a philosophy major in University College, Dublin, took his D.Phil in Oxford University in moral theory and taught successively in University College, Dublin, Bristol University, Birmingham University where he was HG Wood Professor of Theology, Cambridge University where he was elected Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, and finally as Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale, from which position he has this year finally and fully retired. Moral, political and social theory preoccupying him in the first half of his academic career, he published Marxism and Christianity in 1983; in the second and longer part of his publishing career, his attention turned to issues of medieval biblical hermeneutics (Eros and Allegory, 1995), mystical theology (Darkness of God, 1995), the philosophy of religion (Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 2004) and two monographs of intellectual history, Julian of Norwich, Theologian (2011) and Thomas Aquinas, A Portrait (2013). Currently in semi-retirement he is Senior Investigator in a collaborative research project of the Catholic University of Australia on Atheism, and is working on a book on the connections and disconnects between modern and contemporary forms of denial of God and negative theologies in the classical traditions. Publishing books is fine, he believes, but teaching is best and is properly the principal business of university academics.