Philosophy Professor Receives National Grant from The Character Project

photo of Dr. Michael Austin

Dr. Mike Austin, associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University, has received a one-year $50,666 grant to support work on a manuscript entitled “Humility: A Study in Analytic Moral Theology” from The Character Project at Wake Forest University.

The Character Project, a three-year project supported by a grant from The John Templeton Foundation, addresses challenging questions of interest to character, particularly in the areas of psychology, philosophy and theology, in order to foster new advances in the study of character. The questions examine whether such character traits as honesty and compassion exist, the prevalence of these traits if they do exist, and how people should overcome and improve their character flaws.

“A significant body of work in philosophical theology has emerged in the past 40 years that deals with central Christian doctrines such as the Incarnation and the Trinity using the methods of analytic philosophy,” Austin said. “However, comparably little has been done in the field of moral theology using those methods. The primary aim of my 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.”

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 the Character Project grant,Austin will present his central conclusions during a three-day Final Research Colloquia in June of 2013 at Wake Forest University, where the recipients of 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.”

For more information on The Character Project, visit

Published on May 07, 2012

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