Evelyn Brister Headshot

Evelyn Brister


Department of Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts
Program Director

Office Location

Evelyn Brister


Department of Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts
Program Director


BA, Austin College; Ph.D., Northwestern University


Evelyn Brister is an associate professor specializing in philosophy of science and environmental philosophy, with a focus on the role of values in ecology and ecological applications.

She regularly teaches lower-level courses in ethics and critical thinking and upper-level courses in philosophy of science and environmental philosophy, with an occasional course on logic, feminist theory, or epistemology.

Presently she is engaged in several research projects. One examines the value assumptions involved in ecological restoration and in land management more generally, especially with regard to the use of biotechnology to improve forest health. Another investigates the epistemological obstacles to interdisciplinary research, developing explanations for failures and successes of interdisciplinary integration. She also works to support philosophers who are pursuing engaged scholarship and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Her recent writing includes:

  • “Feminist Epistemology, Feminist Contextualism, and Philosophical Skepticism,”Metaphilosophy (2009): 671-688.
  • Global Warming and the Problem of Failed Intentions,” Philosophy and Public Issues 3 (2013): 247-271.
  • “Disciplinary Capture and Epistemological Obstacles to Interdisciplinary Research: Lessons from Central African Conservation Dispute,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56 (2016): 82-91.
  • “Genome Fidelity and the American Chestnut,” Issues in Science and Technology 33 (2017): 41-42.
  • “Objectivity in Science: The Impact of Feminist Accounts,” In Pieranna Garavaso, ed.The Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Feminism. Bloomsbury, forthcoming.


Areas of Expertise

Select Scholarship

Book Chapter
Brister, Evelyn and Daniel J. Hicks. "Contributions of Women to Philosophy of Science: A Bibliometric Analysis." The Routledge Handbook of Feminist Philosophy of Science. Ed. Sharon Crasnow and Kristen Intemann. New York, NY: Routledge, 2021. 65-75. Print.
Brister, Evelyn. "Objectivity in Science: The Impact of Feminist Accounts." The Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Feminism. Ed. Pieranna Garavaso. New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2018. 151-165. Print.
Brister, Evelyn. "Proceduralism and Expertise in Local Environmental Decision-Making." A Sustainable Philosophy: The Work of Bryan Norton. Ed. Ben Minteer and Sahotra Sarkar. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2018. 151-165. Print.
Brister, Evelyn. "Feminism and Contextualism." Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. Ed. Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa. New York, NY: Routledge, 2017. 57-67. Print.
Journal Paper
Brister, Evelyn, J. Britt Holbrook, and Megan J. Palmer. "Conservation Science and the Ethos of Restraint." Conservation Science and Practice e381. (2021): 1-9. Web.
Brister, Evelyn and Andrew E. Newhouse. "Not the Same Old Chestnut: Rewilding Forests with Biotechnology." Environmental Ethics 42. 2 (2020): 149-167. Print.
Brister, Evelyn. "Unifying Agricultural and Environmental Ethics." Ethics, Policy & Environment 22. 3 (2019): 251-258. Print.
Brister, Evelyn. "Genome Fidelity and the American Chestnut." Issues in Science and Technology 33. (2017): 41-42. Print.
Brister, Evelyn. "Disciplinary Capture and Epistemological Obstacles to Interdisciplinary Research: Lessons from Central African Conservation Disputes." Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56. (2016): 82-91. Print.
Brister, Evelyn and Elizabeth N. Hane. "Diversification of Land Management Goals and Strategies in Response to Climate Change." Ethics, Policy and Environment 16. 1 (2013): 26-28. Print.
Brister, Evelyn. "Global Warming and the Problem of Failed Intentions." Philosophy and Public Issues 3. 2 (2013): 247-271. Web.
Brister, Evelyn. "Distributing Epistemic Authority: Refining Norton's Pragmatist Approach to Enviromental Decision-Making." Contemporary Pragmatism 9. 1 (2012): 185-203. Print.
Brister, Evelyn, Elizabeth Hane, and Karl Korfmacher. "Visualizing Plant Community Change Using Historical Records." International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research 2. 4 (2011): 1-18. Print.
Full Length Book
Brister, Evelyn and Robert Frodeman. A Guide to Field Philosophy: Case Studies and Practical Strategies. New York, NY: Routledge, 2020. Print.

Currently Teaching

3 Credits
This course examines the methods, foundations, assumptions and purposes of the social sciences. In particular, it will examine the ways in which science and non-science are distinguished as well as the similarities and differences between the social and natural sciences. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which both Anglo-American and European philosophical traditions approach the social sciences. Other topics may include the role of values in social scientific inquiry, the processes of explanation and theory confirmation in the social sciences, and various conceptions of interpretation and meaning in the social sciences. The course will also examine how the tensions between claims of universality and claims of relativism, claims of objectivity and claims of partiality should be understood within the social sciences.
1 - 9 Credits
A program of study executed by an individual student with assistance and guidance by an instructor, outside a classroom setting. Guidelines for designing and gaining approval for an independent study are provided in the College of Liberal Arts Policy I.D.
3 Credits
This course is required of philosophy majors during their senior year. A student will choose a faculty member to serve as a primary advisor. With the advisor's guidance, a student will research and write a substantial paper on a specific philosophical topic. Students will be encouraged to investigate a particular question in depth, likely building on earlier course work. The finished thesis will be discussed and examined by a committee including two other faculty members.
3 Credits
Environmental philosophy examines the ethical, metaphysical, and social justice questions surrounding human interactions with nature and the management of natural resources. This course explores the nature and source of environmental values and how environmental goals are achieved through policy decisions. We evaluate and apply philosophical and ethical theory to environmental issues such as endangered species, climate change, wilderness preservation, sustainability, and environmental justice.
3 Credits
The purpose of this course is to improve everyday reasoning skills. Critical thinking means evaluating the reasons for our actions and beliefs. Ideally, we think our actions are rational, not arbitrary. But one does not have to look far to discover disagreement and apparent irrationality. What accounts for this? This course investigates how to argue effectively, how to evaluate evidence and reasons, and how to marshal good evidence and reasons in order to arrive at reliable knowledge and justified action. It covers common mistakes that people make in causal, statistical, moral, and everyday reasoning, and it teaches how and when it pays to be skeptical, reflective, and critical.
3 Credits
This course examines developments in philosophy since 1900. During this time philosophy evolved along with science, politics, and the arts. In some cases philosophy responded to new discoveries and theories while at other times it precipitated movements that had far-reaching effects. A range of philosophical approaches may be discussed, including existentialism, experimental philosophy, feminist theory, hermeneutics, logical positivism, neo-pragmatism, phenomenology, and postmodernism. The connections among different approaches may also be addressed.

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