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Nicholas Wolterstorff

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Title: Nicholas Wolterstorff  
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Subject: Alvin Plantinga, William Alston, Religious epistemology, Epistemology, Richard Swinburne
Collection: 1932 Births, 20Th-Century Calvinist and Reformed Theologians, 20Th-Century Philosophers, 21St-Century Calvinist and Reformed Theologians, American Calvinist and Reformed Theologians, American Members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, American Philosophers, Analytic Philosophers, Calvin College Alumni, Calvin College Faculty, Calvinist and Reformed Philosophers, Christian Philosophers, Epistemologists, Epistemology of Religion, Harvard University Alumni, Living People, Metaphysicians, Philosophers of Art, Philosophers of Education, Philosophers of Religion, Political Philosophers, Yale University Faculty
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Nicholas Wolterstorff

Nicholas Wolterstorff
Born (1932-01-21) January 21, 1932
Bigelow, Minnesota
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic
Main interests
Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion, Aesthetics, Political Philosophy
Notable ideas
Reformed epistemology

Nicholas Wolterstorff (born January 21, 1932) is an American philosopher. A prolific writer with wide-ranging philosophical and theological interests, he has written books on aesthetics, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and philosophy of education. In Faith and Rationality, Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, and William Alston developed and expanded upon a view of religious epistemology that has come to be known as reformed epistemology. He also helped to establish the journal Faith and Philosophy and the Society of Christian Philosophers.


  • Education and academic career 1
  • Professional distinctions 2
  • Endowed lectureships 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Thought 5
  • Bibliography 6
    • Selected writings 6.1
    • Secondary 6.2
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Education and academic career


University positions:

Visiting professorships:

Professional distinctions

  • Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, 1953
  • Harvard Foundation Fellowship, 1954
  • Josiah Royce Memorial Fellowship, Harvard University, 1954
  • Fulbright Scholarship, 1957
  • President of the American Philosophical Association (Central Division)
  • President of the Society of Christian Philosophers
  • Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study in Culture, University of Virginia, 2005

Endowed lectureships

Personal life

Nicholas Wolterstorff lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife Clare. He has seven grandchildren.


While an undergraduate at Calvin College, Wolterstorff was greatly influenced by professors Harry Jellema, Henry Stob and Henry Zylstra, who introduced him to schools of thought that have dominated his mature thinking: Reformed theology and common sense philosophy (these have also influenced the thinking of Wolterstorff's friend and colleague Alvin Plantinga, another alumnus of Calvin College).

Wolterstorff builds upon the ideas of the Scottish common sense philosopher Thomas Reid, who approached knowledge "from the bottom-up". Instead of reasoning about transcendental conditions of knowledge, Wolterstorff suggests that knowledge and our knowing faculties are not the subject of our research but have to be seen as its starting point. Wolterstorff rejects classical foundationalism and instead sees knowledge as based upon insights in reality which are direct and indubitable.


Selected writings

  • On Universals: An Essay in Ontology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1970.
  • Reason within the Bounds of Religion. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1976. 2nd ed. 1984
  • Works and Worlds of Art. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1980.
  • Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1980. 2nd ed. 1995
  • Educating for Responsible Action. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1980.
  • Until Justice and Peace Embrace. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1983. 2nd ed. 1994.
  • Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God (ed. with Alvin Plantinga). Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 1984.
  • Lament for a Son. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1987.
  • "Suffering Love" in Philosophy and the Christian Faith (ed.Thomas V. Morris). Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 1988.
  • Divine Discourse: Philosophical Reflections on the Claim That God Speaks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1995.
  • John Locke and the Ethics of Belief. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1996.
  • Religion in the Public Square (with Robert Audi). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 1997.
  • Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2001.
  • Educating for Life: Reflections on Christian Teaching and Learning. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. 2002.
  • "An Engagement with Rorty" in The Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring, 2003), pp. 129–139.
  • Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2004.
  • Justice: Rights and Wrongs. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2008.
  • Inquiring about God: Selected Essays, Volume I (ed. Terence Cuneo). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2009.
  • Practices of Belief: Selected Essays, Volume II (ed. Terence Cuneo). Cambridge: Cambdridge University Press. 2009.
  • Justice in Love. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2011.
  • The Mighty and the Almighty: An Essay in Political Theology. Cambridge: Cambdridge University Press. 20012.
  • Understanding Liberal Democracy: Essays in Political Philosophy (ed. Terence Cuneo). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2012.
  • Art Rethought: The Social Practices of Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2015.


  • Sloane, Andrew, On Being A Christian in the Academy: Nicholas Wolterstorff and the Practice of Christian Scholarship, Paternoster, Carlisle UK, 2003.

See also


  1. ^ [2]

External links

  • Faculty page at Yale
  • Interview from The Christian Century.
  • "The Irony of It All" in The Hedgehog Review vol. 9, no. 3 (Fall 2007). Article discussing human dignity and justice.
  • Lecture at Calvin College on "How Calvin Fathered a Renaissance in Christian Philosophy".
  • Wolterstorff's Spiritual Autobiography from Clark, Kelly James, Philosophers Who Believe (Intervarsity Press, 1993).
  • Theology and Ethics Contains many PDF files of Wolterstorff's work not available elsewhere.
  • Art in Action: New Thoughts Lecture at the 2009 International Arts Movement.
  • Lectures by Wolterstorff from the C.S. Lewis Institute.
  • Faith and Philosophy
  • Society of Christian Philosophers
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