About

Education

I received my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles. It is a bit unusual to return to the same institution for one’s master and doctoral degrees. However, it worked out well given the match between my philosophical interests and the arrival of so many new faculty.

Teaching

At Pomona College I teach a variety of ethics courses: history of ethics, contemporary ethical theory, metaethics, medical ethics, and moral responsibility (see pp.5-6 of my CV [pdf]). There are many important ethical questions (e.g., what sort of character should we aim to inculcate in ourselves and those we care for; am I responsible for the harm I accidentally caused if I had good intentions and took sufficient care?). But sometimes the following thoughts get in the way of pursuing answers to these questions: lots of other people have already thought about these questions—how likely is it that one’s own answer will be original, interesting, or insightful; objections loom to any proposed answer—how likely is that one can come up with a satisfying argument? I think progress toward nuanced and interesting answers can be made in conversation with others who have personal experiences different from one’s own, and who ask questions and raise challenges in a productive rather destruction manner.

Research

My research falls into two areas of ethics: ethical theory and bioethics. In ethical theory I focus on the role of emotions in moral action, the conditions for having and satisfying one’s moral obligations, and responsibility for the outcome of one’s action. My research also addresses ways of categorizing goods (a topic that belongs both to ethical theory and metaethics). After a postdoc in the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health (2006-2007) my research expanded to include topics in bioethics, such as the conditions for moral status and the impact of enhancement drugs on living a good life. My CV [pdf] lists my publications and presentations.