Job Title
Dona and Marshall Robinson Assistant Professor of Religion, Science and Philosophy
Peter Woodford
Office Location
Lamont House
B.A., University of Pennsylvania
Ph.D., Stanford University
Areas of interest
My teaching and research cover a variety of thinkers and topics at the intersection of evolutionary biology, philosophy, and the study of religion. I joined Union in the Fall of 2018 as Dona and Marshall Robinson Assistant Professor of Religion, Philosophy, and Science after completing a 3-year research fellowship at the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge, I was placed in a lab in the Department of Zoology with scientists researching the evolution of cooperation across species. Before that, I taught for one year at Stanford University, where I also received my Ph.D. in Religious Studies. My first book considers philosophical debates about the relationship between science and religion that followed the wake of Darwin’s work on evolution and that focused on the question of how value and agency fit into nature. My current research investigates both tensions and possible points of reconciliation between scientific, philosophical, and humanistic approaches to religion and morality. I am also currently the co-PI on a research project entitled “Is a Social Mind Aware of its “Self?” that will investigate the nature and possibility of self-awareness in social primates that do not pass a standard test for self-awareness, the mirror self-recognition test.



The Moral Meaning of Nature: Nietzsche’s Darwinian Religion and its Critics.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.


“The Many Meanings of ‘Cost’ and ‘Benefit:’ Biological Altruism, Biological Agency, and the
Identification of Social Behaviors,” Biology and Philosophy 34, no.1 (2019):4.

“The Evolution of Altruism and its Significance for Environmental Ethics,”
Environmental Ethics 39 (2017): 413-436.

“The Very Possibility of a Science of Religion: Ernst Troeltsch and Neo-Kantianism,”
Journal of Religion 97, no.1 (2017): 56-78.

“Neo-Darwinism and Neo-Aristotelianism: How to Talk about Natural Purpose,”
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 38, no. 23 (2016): 1-23.

“Specters of the Nineteenth Century: Charles Taylor and the Problem of Historicism,”
Journal of Religious Ethics 40, no. 1 (2012): 171-192.

Reviews and Responses

Invited Response to Shawn Thompson, “Supporting Ape Rights: Finding the Right Fit Between
Science and the Law,” Journal of the Association for the Study of Evolutionary
Biology in Literature (ASEBL), in press January 2019.

Review of Simona Forti, New Demons: Rethinking Evil and Power Today, translated by Zakiya
Hanafi (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015). In Journal of Religion 97, no. 3 (July
2017): 422-423.