Elizabeth Agnew Cochran
Elizabeth Agnew Cochran (Ph.D. University of Notre Dame, 2007) is the author of two monographs focused on virtue, moral agency, and human flourishing in the Christian tradition, Receptive Human Virtues: A New Reading of Jonathan Edwards’s Ethics (Penn State University Press, 2011) and Protestant Virtue and Stoic Ethics (T&T Clark/Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). She has also published articles in a number of peer reviewed journals, including Journal of Religious Ethics, Studies in Christian Ethics, and Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics.
Cochran’s project explores the ways in which contemporary scholarship on autism complicates models of virtue and moral agency prominent in religious ethics. Cochran is undertaking ethnographic research that invites autistic persons speak about their moral commitments, character traits, and the ways that religious beliefs affect the qualities they value and their efforts to live a good life. This research suggests that autistic moral experience points toward diverse ways of experiencing human flourishing and exercising the virtues, a claim that calls into question normative accounts of virtue that may reflect an overly narrow understanding of goodness and how human beings pursue the good. Attention to autism has clear potential to enrich moral and theological reflection on what it means to live a good human life, the nature and character of human flourishing, and the conceptions of moral agency and responsibility that most adequately describe the activity of embodied persons and the interplay of human agency with divine grace. Reflection on autism provides a point of entry into broader questions about how virtue ethicists can best accommodate human embodiment, finitude, and diversity while simultaneously presuming certain universally shared human goods and ends.