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’s research is 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 critical thinking and upper-level courses in philosophy of science, philosophy of social science, environmental philosophy, epistemology, and contemporary philosophy.

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 for conservation. Another investigates the epistemological obstacles to interdisciplinary research, developing explanations for failures and successes of interdisciplinary integration. She also works with the Public Philosophy Network to support philosophers who are pursuing engaged scholarship and interdisciplinary collaboration.

In 2020, she published a collection of essays about engaged research in philosophy, A Guide to Field Philosophy: Case Studies and Practical Strategies (Routledge; co-edited with Robert Frodeman).

Her other recent writing includes:

  • 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.
  • “Feminism and Contextualism,” In Jonathan Ichikawa, ed. The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism, 2017.
  • “Not the Same Old Chestnut: Rewilding Forests with Biotechnology,” with Andrew E. Newhouse, Environmental Ethics 42 (2020): 149-167.
  • Conservation Science and the Ethos of Restraint,” with J. Britt Holbrook and Megan J. Palmer, Conservation Science and Practice 3 (2021): e381.

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
What we do is connected to what we know. Acting well depends on appropriate evaluation of perception, logic, and evidence, and acting on our beliefs commits us to various ethical outcomes. In addition, understanding how our minds work and how we produce knowledge in teams and institutions can improve the reliability of what we know and can assist us in achieving ethical goals. This course develops advanced critical thinking skills and investigates how knowledge claims and value claims interact in order to shed light on the conditions that make responsible knowing possible. We will study how we produce responsible knowledge individually and collectively: from how we make ethically rational choices in our own lives to how society directs research priorities in science and technology. Topics may include: rational decision-making, cognitive bias, moral psychology, social epistemology, epistemic, and ethical relativism, risk and uncertainty, research integrity, and values in science.
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.
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
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.