B.A., M.A., Tufts University; Ph.D., Princeton University
Virginia Onderdonk ’29 Professor of Philosophy
Main interests: philosophy of mind, moral theory, the history of moral philosophy, especially 18th-century British moral psychology.
My current research concerns the philosophical conversation about moral motivation and the nature of moral judgment that took place in Scotland, England, and Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries. The work of Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and Adam Smith and the philosophers to which they were responding is my main focus. In the past I have focused on questions about practical reasoning and moral psychology and have written about weakness of will, the doctrine of double effect, and responsibility for actions and omissions.
I have recently taught courses on philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, and the philosophy of action, with seminars on David Hume, the Scottish Enlightenment, and free will and consciousness. I regularly teach introductory courses in moral philosophy and in metaphysics and epistemology.
I have written about applications of the doctrine of double effect to issues in bioethics concerned with end of life decision-making; in particular, I have commented on the Supreme Court decision Vacco v. Quill, which discusses terminal sedation and physician-assisted suicide. At Wellesley I am a member of the Cognitive Science discussion group.