David B. Fletcher, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy
On Faculty since 1981

Phone: (630)752-5890


Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984

M.A. Philosophy, Loyola University of Chicago, 1980

B.A. Trinity College, Deerfield, Illinois, 1973

About David B. Fletcher

Dr. Fletcher is interested in ethical theory, particularly deontological and rights theories. He is researching a range of bioethical issues, including such developments as the genetic, biological, and technological enhancement of human beings as well as traditional concerns about justice in access to health care, and is interested in the ethical methodology used to address bioethical concerns. He is interested in the “private vices” of gambling, alcohol, drugs, and tobacco as matters of personal ethics and social policy. Dr. Fletcher has an avocational interest in liturgy, writing a liturgy column for a church paper and having taught a liturgy course to church musicians. He enjoys guitar playing, travel, theater, history, and humor. He applies his ethical insights on two healthcare ethics committees. He has served on the vestry (board) of his church and is active in adult Christian education.

Courses Taught

  • Ethical Theory
  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Business Ethics
  • Asian Philosophy
  • Global Justice
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Contemporary Moral Problems
  • Ethical Perspectives in Teaching
  • Internship

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Society of Christian Philosophers
  • The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, Fellow
  • American Philosophical Association
  • Illinois Philosophical Association; Vice President, 1996-1999


Are there moral foundations to which individuals and societies can appeal to address moral issues? What is the relationship between philosophical ethics that is in principle available to all and the morality of the Christian community? How are Christians to approach public debates regarding medicine, medical science, and biotechnology? These issues, which lie at the intersection of ethical theory, applied ethics, and social philosophy, are at the heart of Dr. Fletcher’s research.

His professional interest in bioethics began with his position as manuscript editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and was rekindled by serving as a teaching assistant in a bioethics course at the University of Illinois in the mid 1970s.  This led to his writing a dissertation on the ethics of human subjects research at the University of Illinois. Bioethical issues occupied Dr. Fletcher as Visiting Scholar at Oxford University in 1991.

He applies his research in bioethics in his service on ethics committees and consulting on clinical ethical issues both at Central DuPage Hospital and at Fairview Ministries, a retirement and nursing facility. He does some teaching at the graduate level in the bioethics program at Trinity International University, where is a Fellow of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. He helped to found The Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College and today chairs its Steering Committee, was Vice President of the Illinois Philosophical Association (1997-1999), and serves on the editorial board of the journal, Ethics & Medicine. He is a frequent speaker to medical and community groups on bioethics and to business groups on business ethics.  He has published in ethical theory, bioethics, and social philosophy, and has been interviewed for articles in U.S. News and World Report, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times, and has appeared on television.


Ethical Aspects of Human Subject Research in Biomedicine, Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, James Wallace, Director (University Microfilms, 1984)

Social and Political Perspectives in the Thought of Soren Kierkegaard (University Press of America, 1981)

"Foreword," in Leone Nunley with Dan Merrill , Fighting for David, Tyndale House Publishers, March 2006.

"Substance Abuse," in Erwin Fahlbusch Jan Mili,  Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan , Lukas Vischer , Geoffrey W. Bromiley David B. Barrett, The Encyclopedia of Christianity, forthcoming.

"Particular Divine Commands" in Mark Nelson, Michael Beaty, and Carlton Fisher, eds. , Christianity and Moral Philosophy (Mercer University Press, 1999)

Is There a Right to Health Care? (Center for Applied Christian Ethics Monographs, Wheaton College, 1991 [text for interdisciplinary course])(with Mark R. Elliott), Christianity and Marxism (Wheaton College, 1987)

“Adultery,” in the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2009.

“Substance Abuse,” in Erwin Fahlbusch  Jan Milič Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan , Lukas Vischer , Geoffrey W. Bromiley, David B. Barrett, The Eerdmans-Brill Encyclopedia of Christianity, 2000.

“Communism,” in Campbell Campbell-Jack, Gavin McGrath, and C. Stephen Evans, eds., New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics (Intervarsity Press UK and US, 2006)

“Professional Ethics,” “Population Policy,” “Dehumanization,” Professional Ethics," "Karl Marx," "Alienation," "Reproductive Technology," "Sterilization," "Birth Control," "Medical Malpractice," "Martin Luther King, Jr.," and "Surrogate Mothers." in David J. Atkinson, David F. Field, Arthur Holmes, and Oliver O'Donovan, eds; New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology  (Intervarsity Press, 1995).

“Abortion and American Christianity” and “Protestant Personal Ethics” in Daniel Reid, Robert D. Linder, Bruce L. Shelley, and Harry S. Stout, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America, (Intervarsity Press, 1990)

“Utilitarianism,” “Polytheism,” “Philosophy of Religion,” “Unbelief,” “Metaphysics,”  “Monism,”  “Understanding,” and “Voluntarism,” in Walter Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1984, revised 1997)

 “Holy Living, Assisted Dying: an Anglican Perspective on Assisted Suicide,” Ethics and Medicine vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 2004)3:5-42

“The Future of Biotechnology,” Christian Living Quarterly Vol 2, No.2 (May 2004), 21-27 (English), 44-48 (Chinese).

“Gambling and Character,” International Journal of Applied PhilosophyVol 17,  No 1 (Spring 2003):1-15.

“Autonomy and Polygamy,” Ethics and Medicine, vol. 17, No. 2 (Fall 2001).

"Response to Nigel de S. Cameron's Bioethics and the Challenge of a Post-Consensus Society," Ethics and Medicine Spring 1995 (11:1).

"The Difference that Family Makes," (On the Bioethics Front), Second Opinion April, 1993

“Christian Social Justice and Rawls’ Liberalism,” Christian Scholar’s Review 19:3 (March 1990): 231-242

“Must Wolterstorff Sell His House?” Faith and Philosophy 4(2) (April, 1987): 187-197

“Is There a Right to Health Care?” Christian Scholar’s Review 16(3) 

“Assisted Suicide and the Supreme Court,” Ethical Spotlight, Center for Applied Christian Ethics Website, January 18, 2005, http://www.wheaton.edu/CACE/ resources/spotlight.htm

“The Teri Schiavo Case,” Ethical Spotlight, Center for Applied Christian Ethics Website, December, 2003 http://www.wheaton.edu/CACE/resources/spotlight.htm

 “The Stem Cell Controversy,” Ethical Spotlight, Center for Applied Christian Ethics Website, August, 2001, http://www.wheaton.edu/cace/

“The Ethics of Bioethics,” Dignity, Summer, 2001.

“The Dutch Legalization of Euthanasia, ” Ethical Spotlight, Center for Applied Christian Ethics Website, June, 2001, http://www.wheaton.edu/CACE/ resources/spotlight.htm

Contributing author, “The Covenental Nature of Health Care: Is There a Right to Health Care with Personal Responsibility?” Resolutions and Supporting Paper, National Association of Evangelicals, 2001.

“A Call to Courage,” Wheaton Magazine, Spring, 1999.

"More Reading on Euthanasia," Discernment 1:3 (Fall 1992): 6-7.

Media Presentations and Appearances

Interviewed and quoted for article, by Kyle Waalen, “Custom-Made Babies,” Urban Faith.com, March 10, 2010.

“The Terri Schiavo Case,” At Issue, radio panel discussion hosted by Craig Dellimore, WBBM Radio, Chicago, April 27, 2005.  This program was aired on the Easter weekend and heard over its large listening area.  Along with myself, the panel included Laurie Zoloth of the Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, and Howard C. Eglit of Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Interviewed and quoted for article, “Religious Americans Changing Minds on Stem Cell Research,” G. Jeffrey Macdonald,  Religion News Service 6/07/05

“Cloning,” television program The Journal, May 12, 1997, MediaOne (now Comcast), Chicago.

Interviewed and quoted on the ethics of multiple birth pregnancy by the Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1997 issue.

 Interviewed and quoted on cloning for U. S. News and World Report (March 10, 1997 issue).

Interviewed and quoted on cloning for the Chicago Sun Times (March 1, 1997).

Theses Directed

Co-directed a masters thesis in bioethics at Trinity International University for Sarah Flashing, H. Tristram Engelhardt on Christian Participation in the Public Square: A Van Tilian Philosophical Critique, successfully defended April 2005.

Co-directed a masters thesis in bioethics at Trinity International University for Daniel McConchie, Redefining the Active/Passive Euthanasia Debate: Introducing New Categories to Aid Proper Moral Contemplation (received the Professor C. B. Bluge Award "for the student who has presented to the faculty an acceptable thesis as evidence of creative scholarship in the field of Biblical and Systematic Theology"); successfully defended April, 2001.

Have directed numerous Capstone projects in Trinity’s Bioethics MA program.

Media Center