Dr. Bernard G. Prusak

Lawrence C. Gallen Fellow in the Humanities

Center for Liberal Education, Villanova University

800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA 19085, U.S.A.

610-519-4707; bernard.g.prusak@villanova.edu


Current research


Parental obligations and children’s rights (book manuscript under review); intersections of philosophical anthropology and bioethics; moral perplexity and conscience


Areas of specialization


Ethics; philosophical anthropology (mind/body, personhood, identity, and the place of human beings in nature); social philosophy


Areas of competence


Aesthetics, history of Western philosophy, philosophy of religion, Roman Catholic moral theology




2003                       Ph.D., Boston University (dissertation director Dr. Daniel O. Dahlstrom)


1995                       B.A., Williams College, magna cum laude


1993-1994            Studies at Exeter College, Oxford University


Academic positions


2005-                     Lawrence C. Gallen Fellow in the Humanities, Villanova University, Center for Liberal Education


2011-                     Lecturer, Saint Joseph’s University, Institute of Catholic Bioethics (responsible for directing graduate theses)


2002-2005            Instructor of Humanities and Social Sciences, Boston University, College of Arts and Sciences, Core Curriculum


2000-2002            Adjunct Professor, Emerson College, Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies




Papers in academic journals


·         “When Words Fail Us: Reexamining the Conscience of Huckleberry Finn,” Journal of Aesthetic Education 45/4 (2011): 1-22


·         “Double Effect, All Over Again: The Case of Sister Margaret McBride,” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32/4 (2011): 271-283


·         “Breaking the Bond: Abortion and the Grounds of Parental Obligations,” Social Theory and Practice 37/2 (2011): 311-332


·         “The Costs of Procreation,” Journal of Social Philosophy 42/1 (2011): 61-75


·         “Whither the ‘Offices of Nature’? Kant and the Obligation to Love,” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 83: 113-128


·         “What Are Parents For? Reproductive Ethics after the Non-Identity Problem,” Hastings Center Report 40/2 (2010): 37-47; reprinted in Asian Bioethics Review 2/1 (2010): 54-73


·         “What Was to Be Demonstrated: A Reply to Christopher Tollefsen’s ‘No Problem[: A Reply to Bernard Prusak’s “The Problem with the Problem of the Embryo”],’” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 83/4 (2009): 593-597


·         “What Kant Reconstructed Brings to Aquinas Reconstructed; Or, Why and How the New Natural Law Needs to Be Extended,” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 82: 99-113


·         “What Are the ‘Right Reasons’ to Forgive? Critical Reflections on Charles Griswold’s Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration,” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 82: 287-295


·         “Not Good Enough Parenting: What’s Wrong with the Child’s Right to an ‘Open Future,’” Social Theory and Practice 34/2 (2008): 271-291


·         “The Problem with the Problem of the Embryo,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 82/3 (2008): 503-521


·         “After Rawls? Lucas Swaine’s The Liberal Conscience,” Social Philosophy Today 24: 187-194


·         “The Ticking Time Bomb Case for Torture,” Social Philosophy Today 23: 201-209; published in part by the Villanova University Office of Mission Effectiveness in Occasional Papers 12 (2006): 7-12


·          “The Science of Laughter: Helmuth Plessner’s Laughing and Crying Revisited,” Continental Philosophy Review 38 (2006): 41-69


·         “Faith and Reason in Theory and Practice: Some Reflections on the Responsibility of the Philosopher in Teaching Ethics at a Catholic University,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2006): 23-40


·         “The Ancients, the Moderns, and the Court,” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 79: 189-200


·         “Rethinking ‘Liberal Eugenics’: Reflections and Questions on Habermas on Bioethics,” Hastings Center Report 35/6 (2005): 31-42; reprinted in Habermas II, vol. 4, ed. David Rasmussen and James Swindal (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2010), 35-56; translated into Hungarian as “A ‘liberális eugenetikaújragondolása. Megjegyzések és kérdések Habermas bioetikájához,” Fundamentum. Az Emberi Jogok Folyóirata 1 (2006): 185-198 (see also the exchanges of letters in “The Debate over Liberal Eugenics,” Hastings Center Report 36/2 [2006]: 4-7, and “Back to the Future: Habermas’s The Future of Human Nature,” Hastings Center Report 37/2 [2007]: 4-6)


·         Le rire à nouveau: Rereading Bergson,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 62 (2004): 377-388


Papers in books


·         “Cloning and Corporeality,” in Judaism and the Phenomenon of Life: The Legacy of Hans Jonas, ed. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Christian Wiese (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 315-344


·         “Translator’s Introduction” to Dominique Janicaud, The Theological Turn of French Phenomenology in Phenomenology and the “Theological Turn”: The French Debate (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000), 3-15


Papers in Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (for which I was an editor 2007-2010)


·         Yeshiva, Thirty Years Later,” Expositions 4/1&2 (2010): 1-3


·         “Aquinas’s Sheep: A Note on Anscombe on Freedom,” Expositions 3/2 (2009): 223-228


·          “Crisis, Opportunity, Danger? Mark C. Taylor’s ‘End the University as We Know It,’” Expositions 3/2 (2009): 141-142


·         “An Analysis of Augustine’s Argument in Confessions That Evil Does Not Exist,” with “A Reply to My Critic,” Expositions 3/1 (2009): 73-76 and 94-96


·         “Socrates on Drugs: The Controversy over Cognitive Enhancement,” Expositions 2/2 (2008): 133-138


·         “Arendt and the ‘Banality’ of Evil: A Note on Neiman,” Expositions 2/1 (2008): 103-109


·         “Stanley Fish on the Humanities,” Expositions 2/1 (2008): 5-6


Papers in lay publications


·         “The Moment of Recognition: ‘Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus,’” Commonweal, December 16, 2011, 8-12


·         “All We Can Eat? Thinking about Vegetarianism,” Commonweal, July 13, 2007, 10-13


·         “Politics, Religion, and the Public Good: An Interview with Philosopher John Rawls,” Commonweal, September 25, 1998, 12-17 (with introduction and commentary); reprinted in full as “John Rawls’s Practical Utopia: Can Religion Exist within It?” Literary Review of Canada 7/5 (1999): 19-22; reprinted in part as “Commonweal Interview with John Rawls,” in Rawls, Collected Papers, ed. Samuel Freeman (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 616-622, and as “Interview with Bernard Prusak,” in Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader and Guide, ed. Alan Finlayson (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 140-144; translated in part into Czech as “Interview časopisu Commonweal s Johnom Rawlsom,” Kritika & Kontext 29 (2005): 62-67




·         “Getting the Word Out: How Catholics Ought To Argue about Abortion,” Commonweal, spring 2012


Translation (from French)


·         Dominique Janicaud, The Theological Turn of French Phenomenology, in Phenomenology and the Theological Turn: The French Debate (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000), 16-103; chapter 3 reprinted in The Religious, ed. John D. Caputo (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), 145-158




·         Cornelia B. Horn and Robert R. Phenix, eds., Children in Late Ancient Christianity, Augustinian Studies 42 (2011): 121-122


·         Scott Philip Segrest, America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense, Review of Metaphysics 65 (2011): 447-449


·         James F. Keenan, A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century: From Confessing Sins to Liberating Consciences, Commonweal, October 7, 2011, 28-29


·         David Cloutier, ed., Leaving and Coming Home: New Wineskins for Catholic Sexual Ethics, Commonweal, April 22, 2011, 25-26


·         Andrew Linzey, Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics, Commonweal, July 16, 2010, 29-30 (see also the exchange of letters in “Vegetarianism and Gnosticism,” Commonweal, August 13, 2010, 2, and “More Food for Thought,” Commonweal, September 10, 2010, 2)


·         Louis Menand, The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University, Commonweal, March 26, 2010, 22-24


·         Hans Jonas, Memoirs, ed. Christian Wiese, and Benjamin Lazier, God Interrupted: Heresy and the European Imagination between the World Wars, Commonweal, January 29, 2010, 22-25


·         Harry Adams, Justice for Children: Autonomy Development and the State, Journal for Peace & Justice Studies 18 (2009): 124-127


·         Tim Muldoon, Seeds of Hope: Young Adults and the Catholic Church in the United States, American Catholic Studies 120 (2009): 79-80


·         Cynthia Willett, Irony in the Age of Empire: Comic Perspectives on Democracy and Freedom, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, March 5, 2009 (online)


·         Mark C. Taylor, After God, Commonweal, April 11, 2008, 32-34


·         James C. Swindal and Harry J. Gensler, eds., The Sheed & Ward Anthology of Catholic Philosophy, Commonweal, November 17, 2006, 22-24


·         Stephen Breyer, Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution, Commonweal, December 16, 2005, 22-25


·         John Paul II, Memory and Identity, Commonweal, June 3, 2005, 28-29


·         John R. Searle, Mind: A Brief Introduction, Commonweal, October 22, 2004, 40-42


·         Rémi Brague, The Wisdom of the World: The Human Experience of the Universe in Western Thought, International Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2004): 275-276


·         William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist, Commonweal, May 21, 2004, 28-30


·         John Cottingham, On the Meaning of Life, International Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2004): 110-111


·         George Steiner, Grammars of Creation, Literary Review of Canada 9/7 (2001): 27


·         Colin McGinn, The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World, Commonweal, May 19, 2000, 28-29


·         Nancy Louise Frey, Pilgrim Stories: On and off the Road to Santiago, Commonweal, May 21, 1999, 23-24


·         Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense, Commonweal, March 13, 1998, 24-25


·         Thomas Merton, Journals, vols. 1-6, eds. var., and Robert Faggen, ed., Striving towards Being: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz, Commonweal, September 12, 1997, 36-37


·         René Girard, Resurrection from the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky, Commonweal, April 25, 1997, 29-30


·         Susan Bergman, ed., Martyrs: Contemporary Writers on Modern Lives of Faith, Commonweal, January 17, 1997, 23-24



·         M.V. Dougherty, Moral Dilemmas in Medieval Thought: From Gratian to Aquinas, Speculum




2011                       Finalist, Lindback Teaching Award, Villanova University (one of six for the

University’s top teaching award for faculty across its four colleges [Liberal Arts and

Sciences, Business, Engineering, Nursing])

2011                       Honorable Mention, Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

(one of five for the College’s top teaching award)

2011                       Election to the Executive Committee of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

(ACPA) by the ACPA Executive Council

2010                       Visiting Scholar, Hastings Center, New York (October 12-15, 2010)

2009                       VERITAS Faculty Research Grant, Office of Research and Sponsored Projects,

Villanova University, for the project “Parenting and the Demands of Justice and Virtue toward Children”

2009                       Election to the Executive Council of the ACPA by the ACPA members

2005                       ACPA Young Scholar’s Award for the paper “The Ancients, the Moderns, and the Court”

2002                       Alice M. Brennan Humanities Fellowship, Humanities Foundation, Boston University

2002                       Brightman Fellowship, Boston University, Department of Philosophy

1999                                  Catholic Press Association Journalism Award, Third Place for Best Interview (“Politics, Religion, and the Public Good: An Interview with Philosopher John Rawls,” Commonweal, September 25, 1998, 12-17)

1997-2001            Presidential Fellowship, Boston University

1995-1996            Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Thomas J. Watson Foundation

1995                       Election to Phi Beta Kappa, Williams College

1992-1995            Herbert H. Lehmann Scholarship, Williams College


Academic Service


To Center, College, and University


2011                       Acting Director, Academic Learning Communities (summer-fall)

2011-                     Faith and Learning Mentor, Center for Faith and Learning

2010-                     Elected member, Core Curriculum Foundational Courses Subcommittee, College of

Liberal Arts and Sciences

2010-2011            Chair, University Senate Committee on Mission and Social Justice

2010-2011            Committee on Core and Common Texts, Villanova Center for Liberal Education

2009-2011            Faculty representative, University Senate Committee on Mission and Social Justice (two-

year term)

2009-                     Villanova Center for Liberal Education (VCLE) Policy Committee

2009-2010            Ad-hoc Task Force on First-Year Student Learning Communities

2009-                     Coordinator of the Katharine Hall First-Year Student Learning Communities

2008-2009            Co-organizer of the VCLE lecture series “Speaking of Scripture: Interfaith

Conversations on Teaching Sacred Texts” (responsible for visits of Jon Levenson, Robert Alter, and Iftekhar Hussain)

2008-2009            Academic Policy Committee Ad-hoc Subcommittee on Full-Time, Non-Tenure-Track


2008                       Co-chair, Task Force on Foundational/Introductory Courses in the Core Curriculum,

College of Liberal Arts and Science

2008                       Organizing committee for The Mendel Twenty-First Century Symposium, September 21-

23, 2008; subcommittee member for the session on philosophy and history of genetics

and the session on the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetics

2007-2008            Co-organizer of the VCLE lecture series “Cosmopolitanism” (responsible for visit of

William LaFleur)

2007-                     Co-creator and coordinator of the program Learning Communities Abroad (integrated Humanities course and “work placement” for students in London or Madrid)

2007-2010            Faculty Congress representative for full-time, non-tenure-track faculty

2007-2010            Faculty Congress Executive Committee

2006-                     Coordinator of the “Global Learning Community” for first-year students

2006                       Organizer of the symposium “The Question of Torture: Legal, Military, Philosophical,

and Theological Perspectives, ” Villanova University, April 20, 2006

2006-2009            Organizer of weekly “language tables” for students (French, German, Italian, Spanish)

2006-2007            Faculty Congress Ad-hoc Subcommittee on Faculty Representation (responsible for

drafting amendments to the Faculty Congress Constitution [subsequently ratified])

2005-2008            Co-organizer of “Core Conversations”: weekly faculty discussions of classic texts


To profession


2011-                     Executive Committee, ACPA (one-year term)

2011                       Commentator at the ACPA conference on “Science, Religion, and Reason”

2011                       Book manuscript referee for Wiley-Blackwell

2011                       Referee for Journal of Applied Ethics

2010, 2011           Referee for Social Theory and Practice

2010                       Referee for Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology

2010                       Senior Contributing Editor, Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

2009-                     Executive Council, ACPA (three-year term)

2009-                     Peer reviewer for The Journal of Catholic Higher Education

2009-2012            Board of Editorial Consultants and referee, Public Affairs Quarterly (three-year term)

2009                       Referee for the Hastings Center Report

2009-2010            Referee for The Journal for Peace & Justice Studies

2009                       Referee for Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

2008-2009            Contributing editor, Expositions

2008-                     Referee for Social Philosophy Today

2008                       Commentator at the ACPA conference on “Forgiveness”

2007                       Commentator at the ACPA conference on “Freedom, Will, and Nature”

2007-2008            Associate editor, Expositions

2005-2006            Referee for Expositions


Professional Associations


American Catholic Philosophical Association

American Philosophical Association

North American Society for Social Philosophy





2010-                     Affiliated Scholar, Institute of Catholic Bioethics, Saint Joseph’s University

2010                       Accompanied on rounds Peter Clark, S.J., bioethicist for the Mercy Health System,


2009-                     Affiliated Faculty, Center for Peace & Justice Education, Villanova University

2008                       Recipient of a Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL) grant for the

project “Transforming Teaching and Learning through Learning Communities”

2006                       Recipient of a VITAL grant for the development of integrated intellectual and cultural

co-curricular opportunities for first-year students

2001                       Co-organizer of the conference “Phenomenology and Theology,” Boston University, April 27-28, 2001

1999                       Research assistant for Professor Burton Dreben

1998                       Copy editor, John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999)

1998                       Copy editor, Juliet Floyd and Sanford Shieh, ed., Future Pasts: The Analytic Tradition in

Twentieth-Century Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)

1998-2000            Consulting editor, Commonweal (New York)

1998-2000            Teaching fellow, Boston University

1996-1997            Editorial assistant, Commonweal

1992-1994            Legal journalist, Mealey Publications, Inc. (Philadelphia)




James Boettcher, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Saint Joseph’s University, 5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131, U.S.A.


Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, U.S.A.


William Desmond, Professor, Institute of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Hoger Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte, Kardinaal Mercierplein 2, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium, and David Cook Visiting Chair in Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA 19085, U.S.A.


Daniel Dombrowski, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Seattle University, 900 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122, U.S.A.


Juliet Floyd, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, U.S.A.


James Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of History (formerly Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Director, Core Curriculum), Boston University, 226 Bay State Road, Boston, MA, 02215 U.S.A.