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, particularly with respect to themes that unite these areas of inquiry, such as preservation of, access to, and control over objects, practices, and places. In recent publications I have challenged the common assumption that historically valuable things are necessarily irreplaceable (Ethics, 2013), and offered a revised understanding of the traditional dichotomoy between impersonal and personal value that I illustrate with respect to debate over the evaluative scope of cultural heritage (Ethics, 2015).

I am currently working on essays that explore moral objections to cultural appropriation in the arts, repatriation of cultural heritage objects, and the implications of restoration debates in art and ecology for more general comittments to preserving valuable things. I love how philosophy provides conceptual tools for exploring diverse topics, and in that spirit I am also working on an essay that explores the moral tension that attends loving people in virtue of harmful features of their identities. 

I teach in all of my research areas, and my teaching has an important impact on the shape of my research. For instance, I recently co-authored a paper on the preservation of street art with two Philosophy of Art students, which we presented at a conference on philosophy and street art in New York City. I regularly teach Introduction to Moral Philosophy, Ethical Theories, Environmental Ethics, and Philosophy of Art. In Spring 2015, I taught a seminar on moral questions about history and heritage, and in Fall 2015 I am teaching a Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing called "Ethics for Everyone." I am also a member of the Advisory Faculty for Environmental Studies.

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 an Assistant Professor of Geography (and Adjunct in Biology) at Dartmouth. Our son, Henry, was born in June. I will be on parental leave during the Spring 2016 semester.

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.