Claire Peterson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Department: Christian Studies Philosophy
Office: HU 145
In graduate school, my focus was, “Ethics,” and that’s still the area of philosophy that most interests me. To borrow an example from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion, I think of morality as a musical “theme” that humans are asked to play but also adorn as they live their lives and decide how to shape their societies. One of the things that I find fascinating about this process is how often our “playing of the theme” is an essentially social endeavor–the “why” of what I am doing often only makes sense by reference to the “why” of what my “co-actors” (colleagues, friends, fellow church members, etc.) are doing. If we’re going to accomplish much that is of worth, we have to depend on one another and act together. I think this applies both at the level of the “great” things humans do (human accomplishments) as well as the horrible things we do. So, one big question that I am chewing on right now is how to understand responsibility for these great or not-so-great endeavors when we are acting in groups. Is there such a thing as corporate (group) sin? How are individuals responsible for the “actions” of the many groups to which they belong (e.g., a church, a family, a country, or a company)? What does good collective action look like when all the humans involved are oh-so-far from perfect? What does a good human life look like lived out in a far-from-ideal community?
I live in Wilmore with my fun, brilliant, wonderfully thoughtful and amazingly organized husband and my very active child. We like to spend our free time together going on walks and coming up with new nicknames for our dog, a small fluffy mutt. When I am by myself, I love reading fiction, some of my favorite “just for fun” authors being Anthony Trollope and (even now as an adult) L.M.Montgomery.
- Ph.D., The University of Notre Dame, Philosophy, May 2011
- M.A., The University of Notre Dame, Philosophy, January 2007
- B.A., Asbury University, History and Philosophy, May 2004
- “Abortion and Contemporary Christianity.” Handbook of Contemporary Christianity in the United States, ed. Mark A. Lamport (Rowman and Littlefield). Forthcoming.
- “Pride in Perfection: A Thomistic Defense of John Wesley’s Doctrine of Entire Sanctification.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, (Fall, 2018).
- “Humility in the Deficient.” Faith and Philosophy, (October, 2017).
- “Natural Law Ethics.” Christian Ethics: Four Views, ed. Steve Wilkens, (InterVarsity Press, 2017).
- “Pollyanna, Moral Sainthood, and Childhood Ideals.” Philosophy in Children’s Literature, ed. Peter R. Costello, (Lexington Books, 2012).
- “Annihilationism: A Philosophical Dead End?” with Jerry L. Walls. The Problem of Hell: A Philosophical Anthology, ed. Joel Buenting, (Ashgate, 2010).