Richard B. Miller, Ph.D.
Dr. Miller works in religious thought and ethics at the intersections of moral theory, political philosophy, cultural and social criticism, and Western religion. My research ranges between theory and practice and situates itself within the wider contours of the academic study of religion. Much of his focus is on social and political ethics and some of it turns on issues of moral psychology.
His research and teaching fall under the rubric of “social criticism and the ethics of belief.” He examines ethical idioms and arguments that arise from religious traditions, and puts those idioms and arguments to critical scrutiny in one or another comparative way.
In his first book, Interpretations of Conflict: Ethics, Pacifism, and the Just-War Tradition (University of Chicago Press, 1991) he examined aspects of cultural pluralism as they are played out in debates between pacifists and just-war theorists. His second book, Casuistry and Modern Ethics: A Poetics of Practical Reasoning (University of Chicago Press, 1996), draws on theories of interpretation, practical reasoning, and social criticism to consider the morality of the first Gulf War, liberalism and its discontents, Roman Catholic sexual ethics, medical ethics, gender ideology, and theories about the academic study of religion. In the 1990s his research expanded in bioethics, one fruit of which is Children, Ethics, and Modern Medicine (Indiana University Press, 2003). That book builds on a fellowship year at Harvard and six months as a participant-observer in a pediatric intensive care unit. Ideas and arguments around which his research revolved during these three phases, especially the notion of rights and liberal social criticism, fed into his fourth book, Terror, Religion, and Liberal Thought (Columbia University Press, 2010). That book draws on liberal political and moral theory to clarify the injustice of 9/11 and develops the implications of that judgment for thinking more broadly about respect for persons and religious toleration, multiculturalism, and the relationship between religion and ethics.
His graduate courses include Contemporary Religious Ethics, Religion and Social Criticism, From Christian Ethics to Social Criticism (2 semesters); Religion, Justice, and Culture; Religion, Culture, and Medical Ethics; Religion and the Self in Augustine, Kierkegaard, and Freud; War and Peace in Western Religion, and occasional reading courses. He also mentors graduate students as Associate Instructors in Religion, Ethics, and Public Life, a large introductory undergraduate course.
All graduate work in religioun and ethics at Indiana University is keenly interdisciplinary and includes a monthly workshop of faculty and graduate students who meet to discuss work-in-progress. For a list of dissertations of our alumni, please visit other links on our webpage.