Alumni News

October 24, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Notable Alumni | Shawn Graves Explores Moral Perfection, Moral Imperatives (and Fighting in the NHL)

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Awards honor alumni for broad career accomplishments, commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University and the College of Arts & Sciences.

Shawn Graves ’02 M.A. in Philosophy

In his scholarly work, Dr. Shawn M. Graves probes philosophical questions about “God and Moral Perfection.” He even considers “Christian ethic for sport, tracing some of its implications for fighting in the NHL, taunting and trash-talking, and telling the truth within gameplay.”

Graves is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Findlay. He joined the university as Assistant Professor in 2013 and was promoted to Associate in 2018. He also held posts at Cedarville University and Roberts Wesleyan College.

Graves earned an M.A. in Philosophy from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University, followed by a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester in 2010. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy and English from Cedarville University.

Shawn Graves, portrait

Dr. Shawn Graves

He has a publication forthcoming from Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Religion titled “God and Moral Perfection.”

Abstract: One will be hard-pressed to find a morally perfect agent in this world. It’s not that there aren’t any morally good people. It just takes a lot to be morally perfect. However, theists claim that God is morally perfect. (Atheists claim that if God exists, God is morally perfect.) Perhaps they are mistaken. This chapter presents an argument for the conclusion that God is not morally perfect. The argument depends upon two things: (1) the nature of the concept of moral perfection, and (2) the modest theistic claim that God is involved in the affairs of the world.

In 2018 he authored “Love Your Opponent as Yourself: A Christian Ethic for Sport,

Abstract: In this paper, we’ll present, explain, and defend a Christian ethic for sport that takes loving all individuals as the fundamental moral imperative. First, we’ll begin by taking a seeming detour through views about the morality of war. More specifically, we’ll consider realism, according to which, roughly, moral requirements and rules are suspended during war such that it is misguided to attempt to apply moral terms to acts performed within the context of war. Second, by paying attention to relevant surveys and testimonies, we’ll see how this sort of realism seems to be prevalent within the sports world. We’ll see that a singular focus upon winning seems to cultivate this orientation toward realism and its corresponding relaxed attitude toward rule exploitation and violation and the imposition of harms upon one’s opponents. Third, we’ll present an argument from counterexamples against realism about war and then we’ll consider a structurally identical argument against realism in sport. Fourth, we’ll fill the resulting void by presenting, explaining, and defending the aforementioned Christian ethic for sport. Finally, we’ll apply our Christian ethic for sport, tracing some of its implications for fighting in the NHL, taunting and trash-talking, and telling the truth within gameplay.

In 2019, he helped organize the 14th Spring Meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

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