Matthew Petrusek

Religious Ethics "Catholic Social Ethics and the (In)vulnerability of Human Dignity"

I am honored and grateful to be among the 2012-2013 Martin Marty Junior Fellows. My dissertation, "Catholic Social Ethics and the (In)vulnerability of Human Dignity," works from descriptive and normative perspectives on the question of dignity, examining, in particular, how it can be understood as both inherently and universally equal and yet also in need of protection. Although the inquiry is rooted in Catholic social thought and the theology of Karl Rahner, I also seek to develop a conception of dignity that has pertinence for anyone interested in upholding a universally equal and practical conception of human worth, no matter what their religious commitments. The Marty Center provides an ideal environment for advancing and completing this project.

As both a developing scholar and teacher, I find the Center¹s commitment to exploring the interface between public life and the study of religion especially motivating and challenging. I thus hope to use the year not only to complete my dissertation, gain additional teaching experience, and benefit from the thinking of other Fellows. I also see it as an invaluable opportunity to learn how to become an academic with something useful to say to specialists and non-specialists alike‹a skill that is particularly important, I believe, for those who wish to call themselves "ethicists."