Emerging Scholars in Religious Ethics

Greed. Fraud. Bullying. Discrimination. There is a rising tide of such injustices that is sweeping through all sectors of society, from classrooms to board rooms to legislative halls. Now more than ever, people need to be reminded of what is necessary to create--and sustain--a just and civil society. We believe religious ethicists are well-prepared to fill this role and have launched a new initiative to support them as part of the Catholicism and the Common Good project.

The Emerging Scholars in Religious Ethics Colloquy, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, united a select cohort of rising university scholars to explore and assess key moral and ethical issues of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith traditions.  Colloquy members include: 

• Dr. Elizabeth Sweeny Block
Dr. Block is an assistant professor of Christian Ethics at St. Louis University and holds a PhD in Religious Ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She specializes in Christian Ethics.

• Dr. Yonatan Y. Brafman
Dr. Brafman is an assistant professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He earned his PhD in Religion from Columbia University and has expertise in Jewish Ethics.

Dr. Alyssa Henning
Dr. Henning worked most recently as a visiting assistant professor of Religion at Luther College. She holds both a law degree and PhD in Religious Studies from Northwestern University and has a research interest in Jewish Ethics.

Dr. John "Sam" Houston
Dr. Houston, visiting assistant professor of Religious Studies at Stetson University, holds a PhD in Religion from Florida State University. His research focus is on Muslim Ethics.

Dr. Ross Moret
Dr. Moret is an assistant professor of Religion at Florida State University where he earned a PhD in Religion. He has a special interest in Muslim Ethics.

• Dr. Bharat Ranganathan
Dr. Ranganathan is a Beamer-Schneider SAGES Fellow in Ethics in the Philosophy Department at Case Western Reserve University. He has a PhD in Religious Studies from Indiana University and works in Christian Ethics.

Project Goals and Outcomes

The colloquy aimed to cultivate an environment of inter-religious collaboration and shared inquiry that will produce fresh scholarship on key issues of interest. The group convened at the 2019 and 2020 joint annual meetings of the Society of Christian Ethics, the Society of Jewish Ethics, and the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics. Members were tasked with producing original manuscripts that contribute to the future of religious ethics.

In the final year of the colloquy, each member drafted an essay on his or her area of expertise for review with the group. Dr. Moret's essay, "Religious Ethics and Empirical Ethics," was accepted for publication in the Journal of Religious Ethics. His essay argues that the field of religious ethics would benefit from a more robust engagement with empirical ethics than it has thus far undertaken. In doing so, it offers a brief account of how issues of moral psychology and moral anthropology have been treated in religious ethics, and it highlights ways that the scientific findings challenge some prevailing norms in religious ethics. It ends by suggesting avenues by which religious ethics research could productively engage empirical ethics.