Peter Lawler

 

principal investigator

Peter Lawler
Professor, Government
Department of Government and International Studies
Berry College

Peter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He teaches courses in political philosophy and American politics. He is executive editor of the acclaimed quarterly journal Perspectives on Political Science. Lawler has written or edited fourteen books. Lawler’s Postmodernism Rightly Understood (1999) has had considerable influence in redefining postmodernism as a kind of recovery of Thomistic realism with the help of path breaking analyses of the thought of the philosopher/novelist Walker Percy. His Aliens in America: The Strange Truth about Our Souls was the starred, featured selection of the ALA’s Booklist and made several “best” lists. His Stuck with Virtue: The American Individual and His Biotechnological Future (2005) is a collection of essays about technological and biotechnological as defining features of American lives used in a large number of college classes. His Homeless and at Home in America (2007) is a diverse collection of cultural and scientific analyses that has received nothing but glowing reviews. Lawler has published over two hundred articles and chapters in a wide variety of venues and given invited lectures at over 80 colleges and universities and at numerous scholarly and professional conferences. He was the recipient of the 2007 Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters.

 

Collaborator

Marc D. Guerra
Director of Graduate Programs, Theology
Ave Maria University

Toward a True Science of Being Stuck with Virtue
This project takes the common sense, but by no means self-evident, belief that virtue is an intrinsically indispensable and desirable feature of human life as its point of departure. Working from the premise that human beings are by nature “stuck with virtue,” it seeks to identify the moral, intellectual, scientific, educational, and civic framework in which an intellectually serious and humanly satisfying “new science of virtue” could reasonably hope to unfold and develop. To this end, the project intends to hold three separate, but related, interdisciplinary conferences in which experts from the fields of biology, genetics, sociology, political science, philosophy, and theology reflect collectively on the nature of human beings, the nature of human freedom, the nature of virtue, and the nature of human flourishing. Spread out over a two year period, these conferences would examine fundamental questions that should be of interest and profit to specialists in particular fields and students interested in an interdisciplinary approach to the study of virtue. One of the project’s general objectives is to lay down foundations for future forums in which college and university educators in the natural and human sciences can jointly think about the indispensible role that virtue plays in human life. To facilitate the likelihood of such future discussions, the project’s investigators also intend to publish the papers given at these conferences in book and in journal form.

From March 1, 2010 to February 29, 2012, the Towards a True Science of Being Stuck with Virtue project worked to formulate a rigorous and intellectually serious scientific defense of the traditional and commonsensical belief that virtue is a naturally desirable feature of a happy and dignified human life. Provisionally defining virtue as a hard-earned characteristic excellence of the human soul, the project specifically sought to harmonize two influential modern, individualistic understandings of virtue with an older, partly classical and partly Christian, understanding of virtue that emphasizes the civic, personal, and social character of human life. In pursuit of these goals, the project held three major conferences at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Collectively attended by more than 550 people from 24 different colleges and universities, these conferences featured 43 scholarly presentations from speakers who are recognized experts in fields ranging from philosophy, political science, theology, medicine, biotechnological research, organ transplantation, psychology, and public policy. 39 scholarly papers were presented at these conferences. Project investigators Lawler and Guerra edited and published 5 of these papers as a symposium in the Summer, 2011 issue of Perspectives on Political Science. Lawler and Guerra edited and published another 6 of these papers as a symposium in the Summer, 2011 issue of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society. Lawler and Guerra also co-authored two different articles that appeared in each of these symposia. Additionally, co-investigators Lawler and Guerra have edited a book, titled The Science of Modern Virtue: Essays on Descartes, Darwin, and Locke, that is scheduled to be published by Northern Illinois University Press later this year. This volume contains 12 articles that originated as papers at the project’s November, 2010 conference as well as 1article written by co-investigator Lawler and 1 article written by co-investigator Guerra.

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