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Sumner B. Twiss


Distinguished Professor of Human Rights, Ethics, and Religion

 

Departmental Area: Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy
Research Area: Comparative Religious Ethics; Comparative Moral and Religious Thought; Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspective; Philosophy and Theory of Religion

Address: Department of Religion
641 University Way / P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Religion Department Office: M04 Dodd Hall
Human Rights Center Office: 126 W. Jefferson St.

Email: stwiss@admin.fsu.edu
Office Hours: TBA

Curriculum Vitae

Background


Sumner B. Twiss is the Distinguished Professor of Human Rights, Ethics, and Religion at Florida State University, where he holds a joint appointment between the Department of Religion and the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, and he is also Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Brown University, where he served on the faculty for thirty years and as department chair for twelve years. He is the co-author or co-editor of seven books (as well as a contributor to them), and the author of over sixty published articles in the areas of comparative religious ethics, biomedical ethics, philosophy of religion, global ethics, intercultural human rights, and the comparative study of just war. He is former co-editor of the Journal of Religious Ethics (2001-2011) and the Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics (1995-2001), as well as former senior editor of the book series Advancing Human Rights (2003-2008). He is currently completing three additional book projects: Religion and Public Policy: Human Rights, Conflict, and Ethics (co-editor, with R. Petersen and M. Simion, and contributor; forthcoming from Cambridge University Press); Chinese Just War Ethics: Origin, Development, and Dissent (co-editor, with P.C. Lo, and co-author of three chapters; forthcoming from Routledge); and The Practices of Global Ethics: Historical Developments, Current Issues, and Future Prospects (co-author with F. Bird et al). His recent teaching has focused on such topics as: Confucian moral and political thought; crimes against humanity and international criminal justice; the law and ethics of torture; religion, politics, and genocide; and the history and ethics of humanitarian intervention.

Research Interests


  • Comparative Religious Ethics
  • Comparative Moral and Religious Thought
  • Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Philosophy and Theory of Religion

Selected Publications


Books

    (1)  Sumner B. Twiss and Bruce Grelle (eds.), Explorations in Global Ethics: Comparative Religious Ethics and Interreligious Dialogue (Boulder, CO & Oxford, U.K.: Westview Press, 2000).

    (2)  Alec G. Hargreaves, John Kelsay, and Sumner B. Twiss (eds.), Politics and Religion in France and the United States (Lanham, MD & Plymouth, U.K.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

    (3)  Sumner B. Twiss, Marian Gh. Simion, and Rodney L. Petersen (eds.), Religion and Public Policy: Human Rights, Conflict, and Ethics (New York & Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, in press and due to appear Fall 2014).

    (4)  Ping-cheung Lo and Sumner B. Twiss (eds.), Chinese Just War Ethics: Origin, Development, and Dissent, Book Series on Military, Strategic, and Security Studies (Oxford, U.K.: Routledge, in press and due to appear Spring 2015).

    (5)  Frederick Bird, Sumner B. Twiss, Kusumita Pedersen, Clark A. Miller, Bruce Grelle (co-authors), The Practices of Global Ethics: Historical Development, Current Issues, and Future Prospects (book manuscript completed and under publication consideration).

Articles and Chapters

(1)  Sumner B. Twiss, “The Philosophy of Religious Pluralism: A Critical Appraisal of Hick and His Critics, in Philip L. Quinn and Kevin Meeker (eds.), The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity (New York and Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 67-98.  Also subsequently published in Terrence Reynolds (ed.), The Phenomenon of Religious Faith (Upper Saddle River, NJ and London: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005), pp. 338-367.

(2)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Four Paradigms in Teaching Comparative Religious Ethics,” in Twiss and Grelle, Explorations in Global Ethics (see books for full citation), pp. 11-33.

(3)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Religion and Human Rights: A Comparative Perspective,” in Twiss and Grelle, Explorations in Global Ethics (see books for full citation), pp. 155-175.

(4)  Sumner B. Twiss, “A Constructive Framework for Discussing Confucianism and Human Rights,” in Liam Gearon (ed.), Human Rights and Religion: A Reader (Brighton, U.K.: Sussex Academic Press, 2002), pp. 160-179.

(5)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Confucian Values and Human Rights,” in Joseph Runzo, Nancy Martin, and Arvind Sharma (eds.), Human Rights and Responsibilities in the World Religions (Oxford, U.K.: Oneworld Publications, 2003), pp. 283-299.

(6)  Sumner B. Twiss, “History, Human Rights, and Globalization,” Journal of Religious Ethics 21/1 (Spring 2004): 39-70.

(7)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Humanities and Atrocities: Some Reflections,” in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 25/2 (Spring/Summer 2005): 219-234.

(8)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Comparative Ethics, a Common Morality, and Human Rights,” in Journal of Religious Ethics 33/4 (December 2005): 649-657.

(9)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Comparison in Religious Ethics,” in William Schweiker (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Religious Ethics (Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2005), pp. 147-155.

(10)  Sumner B. Twiss, “On Cross-Cultural Conflict and Pediatric Intervention,” in Journal of Religious Ethics 34/1 (March 2006): 163-175.

(11)  Sumner B. Twiss (principal author), “Introduction” to Hargreaves, Kelsay, and Twiss, Politics and Religion (see books for full citation), pp. ix-xvii.

(12)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Theology, Tolerance, and Two Declarations of Human Rights: An Interrogative Comparison,” in Francis Adeney and Arvind Sharma (eds.), Christianity and Human Rights: Influences and Issues (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2007), pp. 55-75.

(13)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Torture, Justification, and Human Rights: Toward an Absolute Proscription,” in Human Rights Quarterly 29/2 (May 2007): 346-367.  Slightly modified version of this article subsequently published in Paul Weithman (ed.), Liberal Faith (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008), pp. 176-201.

(14)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Confucian Ethics, Concept-Clusters, and Human Rights,” in Marthe Chandler and Ronnie Littlejohn (eds.), Polishing the Chinese Mirror, ACPA Series on Chinese and Comparative Philosophy (New York: Global Scholarly Publications, 2008), pp. 394-403.

(15)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Confucianism and Human Rights,” in David Forsythe (ed.), Oxford Encyclopedia of Human Rights (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2009), vol. 1, pp. 394-403.

(16)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Confucianism and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Historical and Philosophical Perspective,” in Arvind Sharma (ed.), The World’s Religions after September 11 (Westport, CT and London, U.K.: Praeger, 2009), vol. 2: Religion and Human Rights, pp. 153-173.

(17)  Sumner B. Twiss, “P. C. Chang, Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” in Arvind Sharma (ed.), The World’s Religions after September 11 (Praeger, 2009), vol. 3: The Interfaith Dimensions, pp. 175-183.

(18)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Religious Intolerance in Contemporary China, Including the Curious Case of Falun Gong,” in Arvind Sharma (ed.), The World’s Religions after September 11 (Praeger, 2009), vol. 3, pp. 227-240.

(19)  Sumner B. Twiss and Paul Lauritzen (primary author), “Focus on Ethics and Atrocity: An Introduction,” in Journal of Religious Ethics 38/1 (March 2010): 1-3.

(20)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Can a Perpetrator Write a Testimonio?  Moral Lessons from the Dark Side,” in Journal of Religious Ethics 38/1 (March 2010): 5-42.

(21)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Christian and Confucian Influences on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Comparative Inquiry,” in Proceedings of the First Nishan Forum on World Civilizations (Shandong, China: Nishan Forum, 2010), vol. 2, pp. 632-652 (in both Chinese and English).

(22)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Global Ethics and Human Rights: A Reflection,” in Journal of Religious Ethics 39/2 ( June 2011): 204-222.

(23)  Sumner B. Twiss and Jonathan Chan, “Classical Confucianism, Punitive Expeditions, and Humanitarian Intervention,” in Journal of Military Ethics 11/2 (August 2012): 81-96.  Also a revised and expanded version due to appear in Lo and Twiss, Chinese Just War Ethics (see books for full citation), chapter 5.

(24)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Just War in Classical Chinese Thought: Introduction,” in Journal of Religious Ethics 40.3 (September 2012): 401-403.

(25)  Sumner B. Twiss and Jonathan Chan, “The Classical Confucian Position on the Legitimate Use of Military Force,” in Journal of Religious Ethics 40/3 (September 2012): 447-472.  Also a revised version due to appear in Lo and Twiss, Chinese Just War Ethics (see books for full citation), chapter 4.

(26)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Freedom of Conscience and Religion: A Brief Reflection,” in Anver M. Emon, Mark S. Ellis, and Benjamin Glahn (eds.), Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law: Searching for Common Ground? (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 255-261.

(27)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Human Rights and Religion,” in Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Oxford, U.K.:  Blackwell, 2013), 5000-words (print and electronic versions).

(28)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Introduction,” in Twiss, Simion, and Petersen, Religion and Public Policy (see books for full citation), pp. xxviii-xl.

(29)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience and Religion as a Natural Right, in Twiss, Simion, and Petersen, Religion and Public Policy (see books for full citation), pp. 45-76.

(30)  Sumner B. Twiss and Jonathan Chan “Wang Yang-ming’s Ethics of War,” in Lo and Twiss, Chinese Just War Ethics (see books for full citation), chapter 7 (50-page manuscript).

(31)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Human Rights and Globalization,” in Bird, Twiss, Pedersen, Miller, and Grelle, The Practices of Global Ethics (see books for fuller citation), chapter 1 (44-page manuscript) (primary author).

(32)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Three Visionary Declarations,” in Bird, Twiss, Pedersen, Miller, and Grells, The Practices of Global Ethics (see books for fuller citation), chapter 3 (38-page manuscript) (primary author).

(33)  Sumner B. Twiss, “Religion, Politics, and Genocide,” in Bird, Twiss, Pedersen, Miller, and Grelle, The Practices of Global Ethics (see books for fuller citation), chapter 5 (47-page manuscript) (primary author).  It is also possible that an altered version of this chapter will be published in Kevin Schilbrack (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Religious Diversity (Oxford, U.K.: Wiley Blackwell, publication date unknown).

Keynote Lectures and Addresses (selected; all deal with human rights or human rights related issues) 

Global Ethics Lecture, Bucknell University; International Association for the History of Religions (Durban, South Africa); Donald Sutherland Lecture, St. Michael’s College; John Carroll University; U.S. Institute of Peace; University Lecture, University of Iowa; 24th Annual Husain Day Conference on Peace (New York City); Center for Civil Rights, University of Notre Dame; University of Tennessee at Knoxville; Cole Lecture, University of South Florida; Philip L. Quinn Memorial Lecture, University of Notre Dame; Global Congress on World Religions (Montreal); Applied Ethics Worship (Geneva, Switzerland); Gloethics.net Conference on Global Ethics (Nairobi, Kenya); Nishan Forum on World Civilizations (Shangong, China); Society of Christian Ethics (multiple); Year of China Lecture, Brown University; Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (multiple); American Academy of Religion (multiple); American Philosophical Association (Eastern and Western Divisions; multiple); Harvard University; Faculty of Arts Public Lecture, Hong Kong Baptist University; Association of Chinese Philosophers in America (multiple); Plenary Address, Poynter Center, Indiana University; Stockdale Seminar, U.S. Naval Academy; among many others.

Editorships and Consultancies (selected)

  • Senior Editor,  Advancing Human Rights Book Series, Georgetown University Press (nine books contracted and published within this period), 2003-2009.
  • Co-Editor,  Journal of Religious Ethics, Wiley-Blackwell, 2001-2011.  Currently on the Editorial Board as well as the Board of Trustees, 2001-ongoing.
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Religious Studies Review, Wiley-Blackwell, 1992-ongoing.
  • Editorial Board,  International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-Blackwell, 2008-ongoing.
  • Co-Chair, Working Group on Defining Global Ethics, Globethics.net (Geneva), 2008-2010.
  • Consultant in Religion, Public Values, and Contemporary Chinese Society, including Project on Chinese Ethics of War and Peace, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2008-ongoing.
  • Co-Convener, Comparative Religious Ethics Group, Society of Christian Ethics, 1993-ongoing.

FSU Courses (selected)

  • Faculty Seminar on Reading Crimes against Humanity in the Humanities (w/ A. Hargreaves; two years)
  • Human Rights and Globalization (undergraduate)
  • Crimes against Humanity: Fiction, History and Autobiography (w/ D. Maier-Katkin & B. Bullington) (undergraduate)
  • Religion, Human Rights, and Crimes against Humanity (multiple) (undergraduate)
  • Health, Human Rights, and Bioethics (w/ A. Kalbian) (graduate)
  • Atrocities and Resistance (graduate)
  • Comparative Religious Ethics and Human Rights (graduate)
  • Explaining Moral Evil (graduate)
  • International Program on the Nazi Era and its Aftermath (w/ D. Maier-Katkin & C. Greek) (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Comparative Religious Ethics: Theories and Methods (graduate)
  • International Human Rights Law (with T. D’Alemberte; multiple) (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Holocaust in Historical Perspective (undergraduate)
  • Special Topics in International Affairs (undergraduate and graduate)
  • War Crimes Tribunals, and later: International Criminal Tribunals (with T. D’Alemberte; cross-listed with Law School)  (graduate)
  • Foundations of Human Rights (multiple) (graduate)
  • Religion and Crime in America (with D. Maier-Katkin) (undergraduate)
  • Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity (multiple; also trained others to teach this course) (undergraduate)
  • Religion and Genocide (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Confucian Ethics, Human Rights, and Just War (graduate)
  • Holocaust in Comparative Perspective (undergraduate)
  • Law and Ethics of Torture (multiple) (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy Colloquium (graduate)

Previous Books (abbreviated)

  • Comparative Religious Ethics: A New Method (co-author).  Harper & Row, 1978.
  • Genetic Counseling: Facts. Values, and Norms (co-editor & contributor).  Alan R. Liss, 1979.
  • Experience of the Sacred: Readings in the Phenomenology of Religion (co-editor & contributor).  University Press of New England/Brown University, 1992.
  • Religion and Human Rights (co-editor & contributor).  Human Rights Watch/Project on Religion and Human Rights, 1994.
  • Religious Diversity and American Religious History: Studies in Traditions and Cultures (co-editor).  University of Georgia Press, 1997.

Teaching Specializations


  • Comparative Religious Ethics
  • Comparative Moral and Religious Thought
  • Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Philosophy and Theory of Religion

Recent Courses

Fall 2014


REL4491/RLG5497       Sem Religious Thought: Torture & Human Rights 
What are the purported goals, justifications, and limits—legal, moral, and political—of torture practices, both historical and contemporary?  How have the recent and on-going debates about the legitimacy of torture in America been shaped by moral and religious perspectives?  In this course, students will learn to think critically about a range of topics that include: history of torture; torture, pain, and “unmaking” the world; social psychological accounts of conditions making torture possible; genealogy of modern torture; democracy and recent proposals to legalize torture; comparative moral and religious perspectives on torture and its critique; and prospects for the abolition of torture.  Course materials are interdisciplinary, drawing from history, social psychology, law (especially international human rights law), philosophy and religion, and the arts. 

RLG5937                 REP Colloquium   

Summer 2014


REL4190/RLG6176         Sem: Law and Ethics of Torture  
Research seminar into the law and ethics of torture, with main topics including:  torture and the law of proof in the ancien regime; contemporary human rights law and the convention against torture; the dynamics and genealogy of torture practices; the ethical, legal, and religious dimensions of the torture debate in America.

Spring 2014


REL4190-02      UG Religion & Culture Seminar – Holocaust in Comparative
Examination of the origins, dynamics, and sequelae of the Holocaust, involving comparison with selected precursors (e.g., colonial imperialism; the Armenian genocide) as well as later 20th century ethnic cleansing and genocide (e.g., the Balkans).  Special attention throughout to the roles of religious ideologies, ideas, institutions, and figures.  Course materials from various disciplines: history, religious studies, philosophy, social psychology, political theory, and the arts.  Seminar format.