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Dr Peter Woodford

Dr Peter Woodford

TWCF Postdoctoral Fellow in Theology, Philosophy of Religion, and the Sciences

Office Phone: 01223336682


Dr. Peter Woodford works on the philosophy of religion, its history in the modern Continental and Anglo-American traditions, and in particular on the relationship between philosophy, religious thought, and the biological sciences.  He completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University in the area of Modern Western Religious Thought, Ethics, and Philosophy, where he wrote his dissertation on the reception of Darwin in the 19th-century German movement of “Life-Philosophy” that grew out of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche.  This project reconstructed the way in which a new picture of “life” that was seen to emerge from evolutionary biology created a set of questions about the origins, persistence, and normative validity of cultural values.  These questions informed a unique theory of religion and its relation to science, and the project also examined the major criticisms of such "naturalistic" approaches put forward by Neo-Kantian philosophers at the beginning of the 20th century.  Dr. Woodford is currently finalizing a book manuscript that has expanded this original project to address widespread debate about naturalism and the place of science and philosophy in the study of religion.

Since September 2014, Dr. Woodford has been housed in Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock’s Large Animal Research Group in the Department of Zoology at Cambridge, where he is learning from on-going theoretical and empirical work on social behavior and its evolution.  He is turning his attention to the ways in which work on cooperation in animal societies, and at various levels of biological organization throughout what have come to be called the "major transitions" in the history of life, has generated renewed interdisciplinary interest on problems that lie at intersection of biology and ethical theory, and debate over the compatibility between religious and scientific reflection on nature.


Research Interests

Philosophy of Religion

Religious and Philosophical Ethics

Religious Naturalism

Philosophy of Biology

Evolutionary Biology




Key Publications

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

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Apr 20, 2017

Will Lyon Tupman, a third year undergraduate, leads a campaign to help those in foster care to reach their potential.

What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died?

Apr 19, 2017

Read Dr Simon Gathercole's article in the Guardian newspaper

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Feb 27, 2017

School students demonstrated their passion for the subject in creative and sensitive films for the 2016 Cambridge Religion on Film Competition.

Research news: astrobiology, and Zion in South Africa

Feb 24, 2017

Read about exciting research in the Faculty of Divinity, with three lecturers currently away on research trips in very different places, looking at very different things.

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