I studied Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania before going to Stanford University for a Ph.D. in Modern Western Philosophy, Ethics, and Religious Thought. My Ph.D. research focused mostly on Post-Kantian German philosophy, in particular on philosophical debates around the concept of life and its role in ethical theory and the philosophy of religion. Between 2014-2017, I completed a post-doc at the University of Cambridge on philosophy of biology, focusing on issues raised by contemporary theories of social evolution and evolutionary approaches to human behaviour. Between 2018-2019, I was an Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Religious Studies at Union College, NY. I joined the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy as a Lecturer in late 2019.
My research engages with a variety of topics at the intersection of philosophy, evolutionary biology, and the study of religion. Previously, I worked on the philosophical reception of Darwin by late-19th Neo-Kantians and so-called Lebensphilosophen in Germany, and in particular on the relation between conceptions of life and theories of value. My recent work has turned to debates between philosophers, scholars of religion, and evolutionary theorists surrounding the evolution of culture, and in particular of ethical values like altruism. I have also collaborated with scientists on topics that intersect the sciences and philosophy such as animal ethics, animal agency, and the differences between humans and other animals. My current research critically engages with scientific work on the evolution of religion, and I am also currently a co-PI with a primatologist on a project aimed at investigating the nature of primate social consciousness.
Webb, Christine E., Woodford, Peter and Huchard, Elise (2020) The study that made rats jump for joy, and then killed them : the gap between knowledge and practice widens when scientists fail to engage with the ethical implications of their own work. BioEssays, 42(6), p. 2000030. ISSN (print) 0265-9247
Webb, Christine E., Woodford, Peter and Huchard, Elise (2019) Animal ethics and behavioral science : an overdue discussion? BioScience, 69(10), pp. 778-788. ISSN (print) 0006-3568
Woodford, Peter and Carter, Alecia (2019) Science, social critique, and the need for ethics. Animal Sentience, 4(25), p. 34. ISSN (online) 2377-7478
Woodford, Peter (2019) The many meanings of "cost" and "benefit:" biological altruism, biological agency, and the identification of social behaviors. Biology & Philosophy, 34(4), pp. 1-23. ISSN (print) 0169-3867
Woodford, Peter (2019) Response to Shawn Thompson on 'Supporting ape rights : finding the right fit between science and the law'. ASEBL Journal, 14(1), pp. 38-41. ISSN (online) 1944-401X
Woodford, Peter (2017) The evolution of altruism and its significance for environmental ethics. Environmental Ethics, 39(4), pp. 413-436. ISSN (print) 0163-4275
Woodford, Peter (2017) The very possibility of a science of religion : Ernst Troeltsch and neo-Kantianism. The Journal of Religion, 97(1), pp. 56-78. ISSN (print) 0022-4189
Woodford, Peter (2016) Neo-Darwinism and Neo-Aristotelianism : how to talk about natural purpose. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 38(23), pp. 1-23. ISSN (print) 0391-9714
Woodford, Peter (2012) Specters of the nineteenth century : Charles Taylor and the problem of historicism. Journal Of Religious Ethics, 40(1), pp. 171-192. ISSN (print) 0384-9694
Woodford, Peter J. (2018) The moral meaning of nature : Nietzsche's Darwinian religion and its critics. Chicago, IL : University of Chicago Press. 208p. ISBN 9780226539751