Erich Hatala Matthes

Erich Hatala Matthes, philosophy, ethics, morality, art, Wellesleyematthes@wellesley.edu
(781) 283-3476
Philosophy
B.A., Yale University; Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)

Erich Hatala Matthes

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Researches and teaches moral and political philosophy, environmental ethics, heritage ethics, and philosophy of art.


My primary research interests concern moral and political issues surrounding cultural heritage, art, and the environment. I'm particularly interested in themes that unite these areas of inquiry, such as preservation of, access to, and control over objects, practices, and places. I have published papers on historical value and irreplaceability, cultural heritage and universal value, cultural appropriation in the arts, the ethics of historic preservation, and the ethics of cultural heritage protection in war. I've also published some papers on other topics, such as loving people in spite of who they are and the democratic value of distrust. I am currently working on essays about the aesthetic experience of history, repatriation of artworks, and the moral/political consequences of different conceptions of heritage

I teach in all of my research areas, and my teaching has an important impact on the shape of my research. I regularly teach Environmental Ethics and Philosophy of Art. In Fall 2015, I taught a new Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing called "Ethics for Everyone." In Fall 2016, I taught a new Philosophy/Environmental Studies course called "From Wilderness to Ruins" about the ethics and aesthetics of place. In Spring 2018, I will be teaching a seminar titled "Who Owns the Past?" as well as a new First Year Seminar on the ethics of eating. I am also a member of the Advisory Faculty for Environmental Studies.

I am on research leave during the Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 semesters. During the summer of 2017 I will be participating in an NEH Summer Institute on "Space, Place, and the Humanities" at Northeastern University, as well as compiling a curriculum guide on art and cultural heritage with the support of a Curriculum Diversification Grant from the American Society for Aesthetics.

I am the husband of Jaclyn Hatala Matthes, a scientist whose research focuses on global environmental change, specifically with respect to the carbon cycle and ecosystem ecology. She is Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Wellesley. We recently collaborated on a book chapter about the ethics of food waste (you can check out a draft here). Our son Henry, another collaboration, recently turned 2. 

Outside of philosophy, I enjoy playing games, going to the movies, hiking, trying new restaurants, exploring my neighborhood, and spending time with friends and family.