Jason Howard, an associate professor of philosophy at Viterbo University, will celebrate 10 years of teaching at Viterbo in August, 2014, and will also see the release of his first full-length book, “Conscience in Moral Life” this March.
“The title encapsulates the meaning of the book,” Howard told Lumen.
“Conscience in Moral Life” discusses the ways in which the conscience can hurt or mislead us and explores how we should be critical of the confidence we place in our conscience.
His book is an effort to explore how we listen to our conscience, how conscience affects society, and how history has shaped our self-awareness of conscience.
The book “explores the origins of our widespread confidence in conscience, examining its historical development, distinctive phenomenology and its impact on contemporary civil society, all with the aim of critically assessing the reliability of conscience as a source of moral insight,” Howard explained.
“People should be more critical about the authority behind their convictions,” Howard said. “We shouldn’t rid ourselves of our conscience, but we also can’t justify the confidence we have in our conscience.”
Early reviews of his book have “been very positive. Specifically they have noted the timeliness of the topic, the comprehensiveness of my research, the innovativeness of my approach and the important implications my research has on a variety of different areas and fields, such as education, health care legislation, political theory and moral psychology,” Howard said.
The book is a continuation of the dissertation Howard wrote in 1999 at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium; however, he has repackaged and updated his ideas since that time.
Howard said it was “challenging” finding time to finish a book that had a completion deadline, while also teaching four classes each semester. He was offered a sabbatical by Viterbo and used this time to finish his book.
The book was completed “little by little,” after being “picked up and put down,” Howard explained. It took him five years to finish his work, although the last year and a half was very concentrated writing three to four hours a day last summer. However, his enjoyment of the subject, and of writing, offset the time spent on the project.
“Once you see the end, it becomes more motivating to finish,” Howard said.
Howard is interested in continuing his writing; in fact, he has signed a deal for another book must be submitted to the publisher by August. Aimed for teachers to use in a classroom setting, the book will be based on the concept of using role playing games to teach middle and high school students about philosophy.