My teaching interests span moral, social, and political philosophy. Some of the courses I have taught or am preparing to teach include:
Philosophy of Race and Gender
In this course, we will explore several main questions: What are race and gender? What do we want race and gender to be? How might our treatment of applied issues in race- and gender-related areas change if we reimagined the concepts? When we look at the world around us, it seems clear that race and gender are real categories – after all, some people are obviously disadvantaged by their race or gender, and other people are obviously advantaged. But just how should we think about these categories? Are they biological realities? Are they “mere” social realities? Or are we mistaken, and do they not meaningfully exist at all? In this course, we will explore the roles that these concepts play in the real world and how these concepts could be reimagined as effective tools for changing our world for the better.
We confront moral issues and make moral decisions every day, but we don’t always have a good sense of the moral frameworks that underlie our moral judgments. In this course, we will be engaging with contemporary work on four prominent frameworks in normative moral theory: consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, and contractualism. We’ll ask questions such as: What makes an action right or wrong? Must a moral theory be action guiding? What is the correct object of moral evaluation – actions, their consequences, moral agents, or something else entirely? Should we expect a moral theory to be able to vindicate all of our moral intuitions? What should we do when we must decide between our principles and our intuitions about the morality of particular actions in particular contexts?
Feminist Philosophy: Autonomy and Adaptive Preferences
The possibility of internalized oppression raises a problem for feminist philosophers: On the one hand, if women have internalized their own oppression, then this seems to be a good reason to discount whichever of their preferences seem to support the maintenance of that oppression. On the other hand, one facet of oppression is often the denial of the oppressed group’s agency, and discounting women’s own expressed preferences seems to risk doing just that. In this course, we’ll be exploring several important questions that help us to navigate this dilemma. What does it mean to be autonomous? Is autonomy a value that feminist philosophers should endorse? In what form? How should we view and what should we do about preferences which are non-autonomous or otherwise adaptive? What does it mean for a preference to be adaptive?
What do we owe to other human beings? Much philosophical work on justice focuses on domestic questions, as do many of the questions that are most hotly debated by politicians and their constituencies. But we live in an increasingly inter-connected world where many of the decisions made at the domestic level have extreme effects at the global level. How should we, as both citizens of our own countries and members of the human race, think about our justice-based obligations to those in the rest of the world? In this course, we will explore these questions, challenge our assumptions, and debate together what special responsibilities we might have as citizens of one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations. Topics discussed include the basis of our obligations to the poor, the currency of justice, terrorism, war, the environment, and global gender justice.
From the moment that we are born to the moment that we die, and from the moment that we wake up in the morning to the moment that we lay down to sleep at night, our every-day lives are filled with ethical questions. Should I eat the bacon on my breakfast plate? How should I engage with those with disabilities? Are there conditions under which I ought not become a parent? Is it permissible to decide how and when my life will end? Am I obligated to respect the privacy of others? In this course, we will engage with these questions and more, gaining a rich understanding of the arguments on both sides of these debates, and developing our capacity to answer such difficult questions for ourselves.