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'Accountability as Relational Virtue'

Thursday 15 March 2018

Dr Andrew Torrance is to be part of a major new, interdisciplinary, research project at Baylor University in the USA focusing on “Accountability as Relational Virtue”, beginning in Autumn this year. This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of scholars from Baylor, St Andrews, Harvard Medical School, and Hope College, with expertise in the fields of philosophy, theology, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and criminology.

This project is supported by a $2 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust and is to be directed by C. Stephen Evans. Prof Evans is a Professorial Fellow in the Logos Institute, St Andrews––although he will be directing this project in his role as University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR), and director of the Baylor Center for Christian Philosophy. It will be co-directed by Prof Byron R. Johnson (Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences and director of ISR) and Prof Sung Joon Jang (Research Professor of Criminology at ISR).

The aim of this project will be to develop a better understanding of the role that accountability plays in the wide variety of relationships we find in society––a virtue that is of service to human flourishing. Team member Prof Charlotte Witvliet (Psychology, Hope College) notes that the focus will be on accountability as a ‘trait possessed by people who welcome being accountable to others (providing transparent explanations of their decisions and behaviour to those in appropriate roles), and who are willingly accountable for their attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and actions—working to improve or correct their responses when appropriate.’

In addition to the academics mentioned above, the team also includes Prof John R. Peteet (Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School) and Prof Robert C. Roberts (Philosophy, Baylor). Speaking to the roles that the different scholars will play in this project, Prof Evans states: “The philosophers and theologians will primarily be responsible for the conceptual work, while the psychologist, two social scientists and a psychiatrist will primarily be responsible for the empirical work. However, the team has already seen the value of bringing together the expertise of these various disciplines and addressing the problems together.”

Supported by a grant of $134,966, Dr Torrance’s contribution will be to focus on the theological questions that bear on the theme of accountability as a relational virtue. In particular, what might it mean: (1) to be called by God? (2) to be faithful to God? (3) to fear God? (4) to be a witness to God? and (5) to embody one’s knowledge of God in relation to others? A major part of his work will involve asking how a religious believer might understand these things in the context of a secularized and pluralistic society.


Contact details

St Mary's College
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852

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