Does Morality Need Religion?
March 19, 2013 — 13:24

Author: Brian Leftow  Category: News  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 0

16-17 May 2013, Christ Church, Oxford
For centuries, atheism was suppressed because of its supposed amorality. Now, New Atheists such as A.C. Grayling and Sam Harris argue that decent, liberal morality is perfectly possible without religious belief–indeed, that it is only possible without it. Others, such as Jürgen Habermas, acknowledge that Christianity has had a peculiar capacity to articulate humanist values and norms, but that these can be extracted without loss from their theological roots. This May, the McDonald Centre, together with the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Exeter, gather ten philosophers and theologians–both believers and unbelievers–from the UK, the USA, and New Zealand to address questions such as these:

  • Even if morality in general does not need religion, might specific moralities nonetheless need it?
  • Might morality be better off without religion? Is it better off without any religion or only certain kinds?
  • When notions of human dignity or rights are extracted from theological language, is anything important lost in translation? Are such notions really sustainable apart from a theological worldview?
  • Are religious believers more, or less, moral than others? Or are such questions philosophically irrelevant?

Speakers include: David Baggett (Liberty), Julian Baggini (The Philosophers’ Magazine), Nigel Biggar (Oxford), John Cottingham (Reading), John Hare (Yale),Terrence Irwin (Oxford), Michael Hauskeller (Exeter), Tim Mulgan (Auckland), Keith Ward (Oxford), Mark Wynn (Leeds).
Register online now as space is limited:
When: 16-17 May 2013
Where: University of Oxford
Cost: £50 (students £30), including lunch

Philosophical Theology at Oxford
October 14, 2010 — 8:36

Author: Brian Leftow  Category: News  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: Off

Oxford University’s M.Phil. and M.St. in Philosophical Theology are programs in analytic philosophy of religion run out of the theology faculty. The M.St. involves a term in philosophy of religion and one in the history of philosophical theology; the M.Phil. adds a further term in philosophy or in the history of theology. Teaching in each subject is by 1:1 tutorial, though students can also attend all lecture-courses and seminars they wish. Tutoring in philosophy of religion is by Brian Leftow. Other Oxford philosophers who have written in or teach the subject include John Hawthorne, Derek Parfit, TJ Mawson, Roger Trigg, Ralph Walker, AW Moore, Tim Bayne, William Mander, Stephen Mulhall and Pamela Anderson. Teaching of other philosophy subjects is by members of the philosophy faculty; teaching in theology subjects draws on Oxford’s strengths in Patristics and 19th-century theology.
The M.Phil. has had good success as a “feeder” Master’s. Since 2002, all students with high marks have gone on to doctoral work in philosophy. Recent graduates are currently at Oxford, Stanford, Notre Dame and Cornell, and have also been offered places by Rutgers, Berkeley, Chapel Hill, UCLA and Yale.
For further information on these courses of study, see the Oxford Theology website or contact Theology’s Director of Graduate Studies ( or Brian Leftow (