Dr. Andrea Weisberger, a Forgotten Atheist Scholar

There has been a great deal of talk by secular women about the need to support women's issues. I endorse that goal most emphatically. Now there's an organization with a website called Secular Woman to help. I hope they try to include all secular women, not just those who demand preferential treatment to correct past injustices (believe it or not, many secular women disagree). And I hope they also focus on the larger issues that secular women deal with. Let me give you one such example as sort of a test case of what I mean. If this organization had been up and running then Professor Andrea Weisberger might still be engaged in atheist causes because of their support, perhaps still teaching in a university, still writing. Weisberger is on a short list of atheist scholars I admire the most. She introduced me to the problem of animal suffering that I have written so much about. Have you heard her story? You should.

Who is Weisberger? Glad you asked:

A.S. Computer Information Systems, Florida Community College, Jacksonville, 2000.
Ph.D. Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, 1991.
M.A. Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, 1988.
B.A. Philosophy, Florida International University, 1981.
B.A. Religious Studies, Florida International University, 1981.

Major Areas of Interest:

Philosophy of Religion
Ethics (Theoretical and Applied)
Animal Rights, Environmental Issues
Asian Philosophy/Religion
Holocaust Studies
Comparative Religion, Mysticism

Teaching Positions:

Instructor of Philosophy (Online Courses), University of North Florida, 2003-present
Chair, Philosophy & Religion, Jacksonville University, 1992-1998
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Jacksonville University, 1991-1998
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Tennesee State University, 1985
Instructor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, 1983-1985

Research and Teaching Grants:

Jewish Chautauqua Society Grant for a course in Judaism, Fall, 1997
Release Time Grant for conducting research, Jacksonville University, Fall 1995, Fall 1996
National Endowment for the Humanities Study Grant to College Teachers, for "The Holocaust and Uniqueness: An Investigation of Genocide," 1995



Suffering Belief (Toronto Studies in Religion), Volume 23, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1999. Series Editor: Donald Wiebe.



"The Problem of Evil" in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. Michael Martin. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
"The Nature of the Relationship Between Religion and Ethics: A Case Study of Animal Rights Within Judaism." Sophia (Aust.), Vol. 42, No. 1 (2003): 77-84.
"The Pollution Solution: A Critique of Dore's Response to the Argument from Evil." Sophia (Aust.), Vol. 36, No. 1 (1997): 19-35.
"The Ethics of the Broader Usage of Prozac: Social Choice or Social Bias?" International Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol. 10, No. 1 (1995): 69-74.
"Depravity, Divine Responsibility and Moral Evil: A Critique of a New Free Will Defence." Religious Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3 (1995): 375-390.
"The Good, the Bad, and the Natural: Callicott's Ethical Holism Reconsidered." Ethics and Critical Thinking Journal, Vol. 35, No. 405 (1995): Section 6: 1-21.
"Haack on Dummett: A Note." Philosophical Studies 55 (1989): 337-343.

Former Professional Affiliations:

American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division
Florida Philosophical Association (Secretary/Treasurer)
Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology
Association for Practical and Professional Ethics
American Academy of Religion


Reading knowledge of German and Hebrew


Lived in Israel from 1972-1976
Studied in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem
Lived and worked on a religious kibbutz

What happened? Again, glad you asked:
Andrea was Chair of the Philosophy & Religion program at Jacksonville University from 1991-1998.

She was evicted from academe most inhospitably after complaining about being told that she, as well as a candidate being interviewed for a position at the moment, had "Jewish germs" by another faculty member. After voicing concern about a number of anti-Semitic incidents at Jacksonville University, she was asked to leave.

Although she brought charges against the university for discrimination, a federal judge ruled that she had no standing to bring a case based on anti-Semitism since she was an atheist and, therefore--the judge reasoned--could not possibly be a Jew. She is probably the first (and only) person in the US who was legally stripped of an ethnic identity based on a lack of religious belief.

After repeated failed attempts at learning to appreciate white bread and mayonnaise, and filing a brief, the federal judge reversed his decision and allowed Andrea to once again join the ranks of the Jews. The case was eventually settled and, after the lawyers were compensated, she received a bit less than the two years salary she had lost while fighting the discrimination. Since Andrea was successfully litigious, no other academic institution has risked hiring her on a full time basis. Link.
Let's show Andrea that we appreciate her by getting her to speak at atheist conventions across America. She has a story to tell.

Right now all she's doing is teaching online classes for University of North Florida, and working in a business related field. She has only written one article in the last decade (see above). She was effectively silenced and she had/has so much to offer. So here's somewhat of a test case example for Secular Woman. If they want to promote secular women's values like I most emphatically do, rather than just promoting themselves, let them promote Weisberger and others like her. Why she isn't a regular speaker at atheist conferences around the country baffles me. Perhaps the Secular Woman organization can rectify this. I wish them all the best in our common causes.