University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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Dr. James Brummer Receives
Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship

 MAILED:  Sept. 3, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. James Brummer, professor of philosophy and religious studies, is the fifth recipient of the Maxwell Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The award recognizes a commitment to the university, achievement in scholarship and a commitment to student learning and life.

“I feel very honored to have won the Max Schoenfeld award for 2003,” Brummer said. “I knew Max, and, perhaps more importantly, I knew to what extent his students respected him as a scholar and revered him as a teacher. He left a legacy of leadership in teaching, research and service to the university that is unsurpassed.”

Brummer will use the $5,000 award to work on an ethics book on residual obligations, defending a certain concept in ethics that arises when there are conflicts of duty.

“Much work has been devoted to discussing the winning duty, so to speak, — the duty that overrules any other obligations in a particular situation of conflict,” Brummer said. “But my interest has been in the overridden duty. What happens to it? Does it just disappear from the scene? Or does it hang around in some way to influence the successive decisions or actions of agents?

“I believe the latter, and I think that realizing this can have an enormous impact on ethical theory and especially on matters of applied ethics because, if I am right, a good number of obligations that individuals have, particularly in their professional lives, are these residual ones.

“So my research work will be to explain and defend these moral residues in ethical theory and consider their application to daily life,” said Brummer, who has served as chair of the department of philosophy and religious studies since 1997.

Brummer received the award at the opening meeting of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“For a number of years now Jim has provided the department of philosophy and religious studies with strong leadership,” said Bernard Duyfhuizen, interim dean. “Additionally, Jim is a master teacher and an accomplished scholar in the area of ethics.”

Brummer graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Boston University where he was the Borden Parker Bowne Fellow in Philosophy in 1972.

He has taught more than 30 different courses in philosophy, religious studies and the humanities since joining the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 1973, and has taught in the MBA and Entrepreneur programs for the College of Business. He is the author of a book on corporate responsibility and has published 12 articles in professional journals in the areas of ethical theory and professional ethics.

Brummer has been a member of the University Senate, University Institutional Review Board and curriculum committee of the College of Arts and Sciences. Since becoming department chair in philosophy and religious studies, he initiated a faculty colloquium and an undergraduate journal, “Prism,” for students in the department. In 1990, he won a College of Arts and Sciences award for effective teaching and in 2002 he was inducted into the College’s Hall of Honor, recognizing alumni for their contributions to university, local, state and national committees.

The professorship was created in honor of Maxwell Schoenfeld, a UW-Eau Claire history professor and scholar from 1964 until his death in 1996.

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
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Updated: September 3, 2003