David H. Smith

David H. Smith

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies


  • Ph.D., Princeton University, 1967

Research interests

  • Religious Ethics
  • Theological Ethics
  • Medical Ethics
  • Ethics and Philanthropy
  • Teaching Ethics

About David H. Smith

In 2003 David H. Smith retired from Indiana University where he has taught since 1967. He chaired the department of Religious Studies from 1976 to 1984, and he received teaching awards in 1979 and 1986. He was also Adjunct Professor of both Medicine and Philanthropic Studies. For the last 20 years of his tenure Smith directed the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, an interdisciplinary center that focused its attention on medical ethics, the teaching of ethics, and the relationship of religion and ethics. The Center's externally funded projects concerned care for the dying, genetic testing, research ethics, problems in and strategies for the teaching of ethics in diverse institutions. In addition, in collaboration with the center on philanthropy, the Center has been heavily involved in projects related to the moral responsibilities of trustees and moral issues in philanthropy. Smith's publications include Health and Medicine in the Anglican Tradition (1986), Entrusted: The Moral Responsibilities of Trustees (1995), and he is the first author of Early Warning, a set of case studies and recommended guidelines for decisions about testing for late-onset genetic diseases (1998). He is currently at work on a book on religion and the morality of care for the dying tentatively entitled Professional Testaments to be published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2004 and an edited collection of essays Paved with Good Intentions to be published by the Indiana University Press in the same year. Since 1998 Smith has been active in the Episcopal Church's work on ethics. He is a joint author of Faithful Living, Faithful Dying (2000) and with Cynthia Cohen is the editor of A Christian Response to our New Genetic Powers. From 2000 to 2003 he chaired a Task Force on Ethics and the New Genetics created by the church's Executive Council. David Smith served as a visiting professor of bioethics in the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale for the 2003-4 academic year. In 2004-5 he will be the Friedricks Distinguished Visiting Professor of Ethics at DePauw University. He holds the BA from Carleton College, the BD from Yale Divinity School and the PhD from Princeton University.


Caring Well: Religion, Narrative, and Health Care Ethics. Ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.

Early Warning: Cases and Ethical Guidance for Presymptomatic Testing in Genetic Diseases. With Kimberly A. Quaid, Roger B. Dworkin, Gregory P. Gramelspacher, Judith A. Granbois, and Gail H. Vance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

The Social Face of Death: Confronting Mortality in Paoli, Indiana. Bloomington, Ind.: Poynter Center, 1998. With Kenneth D. Pimple and Judith A. Granbois.

Entrusted: The Moral Responsibilities of Trustees. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Health and Medicine in the Anglican Tradition: Conscience, Community and Compromise. New York: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1986.

Respect and Care in Medical Ethics, editor. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1984.

No Rush to Judgment, editor. Bloomington, Ind.: Poynter Center, Indiana University, 1977.

Love and Society: Essays in the Ethics of Paul Ramsey. Ed. with James T. Johnson. Missoula: American Academy of Religion and Scholars Press, 1974.

The Achievement of John C. Bennett. New York: Herder & Herder, 1970.

Recent articles & other publications

"Notes on a Pilgrimage to Science: A Fly on the Wall" Science and Engineering Ethics (Issue 4, 2001) 615-634

"Introduction: The Importance of Listening and the Pertinence of Religion" and "Professional Commitment to Personal Care: Nurses' Commitments to Care for the Dying" Caring Well: Religion, Narrative, and Health Care Ethics. David H. Smith, ed., Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.

"Creation, Preservation, and All the Blessings ...," Anglican Theological Review 81 (No. 4, Fall 1999): 567-588.

"Introduction" Conscience and Its Problems: An Introduction to Casuistry. Kenneth E. Kirk, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.