ematthes@wellesley.edu
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, particularly with respect to 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, and loving people in spite of who they are. I am currently working on essays about the ethics of historic preservation 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. 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 taught a Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing called "Ethics for Everyone." This Fall (2016) I am teaching a new Philosophy/Environmental Studies course called "From Wilderness to Ruins" about the ethics and aesthetics of place. 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 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 1. 

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.