Donald J. Schuenke Chair

I arrived at Marquette in 2010 to assume the Donald J. Schuenke Chair in Philosophy. From 2002-2010, I was Professor of Philosophy and Lincoln Professor of Ethics at Arizona State University, where I received ASU’s Defining Edge Research in the Humanities Award in 2007. I was a member of the Philosophy Department at Fordham University from 1974-2002. I have also taught at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; Washington University at St. Louis; and University of South Florida, where I held visiting appointments. In 2002, I returned to the Catholic University of Leuven as the first woman to hold the Cardinal Mercier Chair in Philosophy. I enjoyed a Laurance S. Rockefeller Fellowship at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values in 2003-2004, and was honored to be Marquette’s Aquinas Lecturer in 2010. My area of specialization is ethics. My research and teaching interests include ethical theory, feminist ethics, moral epistemology and moral psychology, human rights, and questions of accountability and repair of moral relationships.

My current research interests are in justice and repair following conflict, repression, and historical injustice. My book Moral Repair: Reconstructing Moral Relations After Wrongdoing (Cambridge University Press, 2006) offers a framework for reviving the hope and trust on which moral relations depend; moral relations are rebuilt through accountability, forgiveness, and amends. My 2010 Aquinas Lecture at Marquette, What is Reparative Justice? (Marquette University Press, 2010), presents the outlines of a conception of reparative justice in response to violence and injustice. I am developing a theory of the moral foundations of reparations, the social and political conditions of moral accountability, and the role and importance of truth-telling in the wake of violence, oppression, or injustice. I have worked with the International Center for Transitional Justice on projects on gendered violence and reparations, and the need for truth-telling in the context of political transitions after mass violence.

I was led to my work on moral repair by my earlier studies of the impact of social inequalities and oppression on the ways we understand morality, both in ethics and in everyday life. My books Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics, 2nd Edition (Oxford University Press, 2007) and Moral Contexts (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) explore relations between social power, moral identities, and moral understandings.  I defend the view that our moral understandings are always embedded in socially and historically specific practices of responsibility. Moral progress is possible through becoming aware that our moral and social practices can be critically assessed and transformed. The contemporary human rights movement is an example of the possibility of new moral understandings and moral transformation.

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