Julie Walsh

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Researches and teaches topics in early modern philosophy, with a focus on theories of human freedom and philosophical method, and in the ethics of digital technology.    

The primary focus of my research is on the metaphysics and ethics of human freedom in the early modern period. I have especially spent time thinking about the theories of freedom in the systems of the French Oratorian Nicolas Malebranche and the British philosopher John Locke.

More recently, I have shifted my attention to studying the way that marginalized thinkers of the era, women and philosophers of color, were thinking about freedom. You can read a short piece about one such figure in my essay "Gabrielle Suchon, Philosopher Queen of the Amazons" in the National Endowment of the Humanities Magazine. I am also interested in looking at the various ways that the witch hunts of early modern Europe and the colonial United States were written about by philosophers at that time. You can listen to an interview I did on WBUR, as part of the "Brilliant Boston" series, on the Salem witch hunts here, and you can read a short interview I did with GBH news on the topic here.

The other branch of my teaching and research engages with ethical questions surrounding the development, deployment, and use of digital technologies. In this project, I partner with my colleague Professor Eni Mustafaraj in Computer Science. With the support of a National Science Foundation grant, we are studying the ways that liberal arts institutions like Wellesley prepare their graduates for the ethical dimension of careers in the digital technology sector. You can read more about our project here. In February 2023, I participated in a panel discussion about one very popular new piece of digital technology, Chatgpt. You can watch the panel here (Wellesley login required).

I teach classes in early modern philosophy and ethics, including "Introduction to Moral Philosophy," "Introduction to Modern Philosophy," and "Philosophy and Witchcraft." I teach seminars on "Free Will," "Ethics and Digital Technology," and "Human Nature."

As of July 1, 2023, I and Professor Irene Mata will be Directors of the Suzy Newhouse Center for the Humanities

When not thinking about philosophy, I am likely reading science fiction, doing the NYT crossword, performing vegan chemistry experiments in my kitchen, or spending time with my rescue dog Lola.


  • B.A., University of Toronto
  • M.A., University of Western Ontario
  • Ph.D., University of Western Ontario

Current and upcoming courses

  • The scale of the meat industry and its adverse environmental and climate impacts alongside burgeoning scientific understandings of non-human intelligence require urgent reevaluation of our relationship to animals as food: How has visual culture (historical and contemporary), both in advertising and in popular culture, separated meat as a food from the process of animal slaughter that produces it? How do we negotiate between our food traditions and ethical obligation to move away from practices rooted in violence? Why do we value some animals as companions while commodifying others as food? What is speciesism and in what ways can it shape our understanding of animal oppression? We engage these questions and more using visual culture and ethical frameworks to critique the prevailing political and cultural norms that desensitize us to the implications of meat consumption.. Enrollment in this course is by permission of the instructor. Students who are interested in taking this course should fill out this Google Form. (ARTH 324 and PHIL 324 are cross-listed courses.)