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Dr. Mike Austin Receives Major Grant from The Character Project

Mike Austin

Professor Mike Austin, in the Philosophy and Religion Department, has received a grant from The Character Project at Wake Forest University, sponsored by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The grant will support work on a manuscript entitled Humility: A Study in Analytic Moral Theology.  A significant body of work in philosophical theology has emerged in the past forty years which deals with central Christian doctrines such as the Incarnation and the Trinity using the methods of analytic philosophy. However, comparably little has been done in the field of moral theology using those methods. According to Dr. Austin, the primary aim of the book is to articulate and defend a Christian account of the virtue of humility. There are distinct conceptions of this virtue present in the history of Christian theology and moral philosophy (both religious and secular). Dr. Austin will critically examine different understandings of humility present in these disciplines, and compare them with the account he offers of this virtue. He will also defend his conception of humility against objections that have been lodged against the claim that humility is a virtue from philosophers both past and present. Finally, he will discuss the practical relevance of humility for personal and social human life.

As a recipient of this grant,Dr. Austin will present his central conclusions at the three-day Final Research Colloquia in June of 2013 at Wake Forest University where the PIs from funding initiatives for the psychology, philosophy, and theology of character will each present their conclusions. He will also submit a chapter length version of his paper from the Final Research Colloquia for publication in a two volume edited work tentatively entitled The Character Project: New Perspectives in Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology.The amount of this grant is $50,666 and the grant period runs from June 2012 - June 2013.

The goal of The Character Project is to foster new advances in the study of character by addressing challenging questions in the psychology, philosophy, and theology of character, including but not limited to:

  1. Do character traits such as honesty or compassion really exist?
  2. If they do exist, how prevalent are they, and what is their underlying psychological nature?
  3. Should character traits such as the virtues be the centerpiece of our best ethical theory?
  4. How should we go about improving our characters and overcoming our character flaws?
  5. For those working in theology, should thinking about human and divine character be central to theological ethics?

For more information on The Character Project, please visit

Published on April 29, 2012

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