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Dr. Philip E. Devine

Professor of Philosophy
Office: Siena Hall 125
Tel.: 401-865-2748
Office Hours (Spring 2012):
(On Sabbatical)


Academic Background      

    •    Harvard Law School, Fellow in Law and Philosophy, 1980-81
    •    University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. in Philosophy, 1971
    •    Yale University, Bachelor of Arts, 1966

Sample Courses Taught at Providence College

    •    Development of Western Civilization (including Honors)
    •    Contemporary Philosophy
    •    General Ethics
    •    Law and Morality
    •    Social and Political Philosophy
    •    Philosophy of the Human Person

Teaching Philosophy

My chief aim in teaching philosophy is to get students to see that they can have reasons for their moral, political, and religious beliefs.  I regard teaching and scholarship, not as rivals, but as allies.  Teachers who are actively engaged with the materials they teach are for that reason better teachers; teachers who attempt only to present materials inherited from their graduate education in palatable form are selling their students short, however popular they may be.  I likewise attempt to combine democratic and traditional concepts of education -- in concrete terms, discussion and lecture:  it is important to engage the students, but pointless if one has nothing to say.

Research & Interests

My current philosophical work is in social and political philosophy (including philosophy of law).  Previous interests have included special ethics (chiefly life and death issues), metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion.  A guiding thread is the understanding of crucial concepts, whose analysis engages moral, religious, and political preconceptions - ranging from God to humanity to we.

Notable Academic Appointments and Awards

    •    Summer seminars and institutes under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Humanities at:
    ◦    Tufts University, 1988
    ◦    Notre Dame University, 1985
    ◦    University of Nebraska, 1984
    ◦    Wellesley College, 1982
    ◦    Brown University, 1978
    •    Editorial Board, Legal Studies Forum, 1984-1988

Publication Highlights



    •    Sex and Gender: A Spectrum of Views, with Celia Wolf-Devine.  Wadsworth, 2003.
    •    Natural Law Ethics.  Greenwood, 2001.
    •    Human Diversity and the Culture Wars. Praeger, 1996.
    •    Relativism, Nihilism and God.  Notre Dame, 1989.    
    •    The Ethics of Homicide. Cornell, 1978; reprinted Notre Dame, 1990.


    •    “Abortion:  A Communitarian Pro-life Perspective” (with Celia Wolf-Devine).  Under contract for Abortion:Three Perspectives. Edited by James Sterba for Oxford ’s Point/Counterpoint Series.
    •    “What is Naturalism?”  Philosophia Christi. 8, no. 1 (2006): 111-125. 
    •    “The Structure of Conventional Morality.” International Philosophical Quarterly. 45, no. 1 (June 2005): 243-56.

Selected Scholarly Presentations and Activities

    •    Invited participant, Conference on Moral Theology and Moral Judgments, Baylor College of Medicine, 1985
    •    Testified by invitation before the President's Commission on Bioethics, on the care of handicapped newborns, 1982
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