Register here for DSPT Open House

Michael Dodds, OP

Professor of Philosophy & Theology


  • STM, Master of Sacred Theology
  • STD, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • MA (Theology), Graduate Theological Union
  • MDiv, MA (Philosophy), Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology
  • BA, St. Albert's College

Research Interests

  • fostering a dialogue between the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and contemporary philosophy and science
  • philosophical anthropology: the mind-brain problem and human wholeness
  • retrieving Aquinas’s notion of formal causality
  • Divine Action - showing how the discoveries of contemporary science invite a retrieval of Aquinas’ understanding of efficient, formal, and final causality

Courses Taught

  • Philosophical Anthropology (PH-2040)
  • Issues in Divine Action (STPH-4885)
  • Philosophy of Nature (PH-1056)
  • Methods and Doctrines I (ST-5020)
  • Trinity (ST-2300)
  • The One Creator God (ST-3095)
  • God and Suffering (STPH-2209)

Recent Publications

  • "From the Action of Creatures to the Existence of God: The First Way, Science, and the Philosophy of Nature." Nova et Vetera 19, 2 (2021): 739-68.
  • "The Reception of Aquinas in the Philosophy of Nature and Science." In The Oxford Handbook of the Reception of Aquinas. Edited by Matthew Levering and Marcus Plested. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021, 539-53.
  • "Thomas Aquinas," in T&T Clark Handbook of Christian Theology and the Modern Sciences. Edited by John Slattery. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2020, 105-115.

From the Professor

Some of the courses that I'm teaching now, I have been teaching for almost 30 years—yet the subjects remain exciting for me and I try to communicate that excitement to my students. There is always the challenge of trying to penetrate the thought of classical authors such as Aristotle and Aquinas more deeply. There are also contemporary developments in scholarship in these areas that present new approaches and challenges. What is most exciting, however, is presenting ideas that are new to students (however old the ideas themselves might be), seeing the “light go on” as students begin to grasp them (the “aha moments”), and hearing the insightful and often challenging questions that the students raise. The whole teaching experience is ever old, yet ever new.

I am more and more convinced that the thought of Thomas Aquinas has enormous wisdom to offer to contemporary issues in philosophy and theology. In philosophy, his appropriation of Aristotle's hylomorphism can bring great insight to the impasse of dualism vs. materialism in discussions of the nature of the human person, the relation of body and soul, and the question of the mind-brain relationship. His account of causality is immediately relevant to the notion of emergence in contemporary science and its impulse to retrieve formal and final causality. His ideas of primary and secondary causality as well as principal and instrumental causality are essential to a theological understanding of divine action—so central to the dialogue between science and theology over the last several decades.

I have become increasingly intrigued with the notion of chance. In science, it is central to accounts of biological evolution and to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. In philosophy, it remains a challenge to describe exactly what kind of cause “chance” is—if it is a cause at all. In theology, it is a conundrum for many to see how divine providence and divine action are compatible or even possible in a world characterized by chance. In all of these areas, Aquinas's thought can be extremely helpful. I addressed the issue in my Unlocking Divine Action: Contemporary Science and Thomas Aquinas.

I am a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the GTU, American Catholic Philosophical Association, Catholic Theological Society of America, The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, The Society of Christian Philosophers, and Society for Thomistic Natural Philosophy.

Selected Media