B.A., Yale University; Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)
Erich Hatala MatthesAssociate Professor of Philosophy; Director, The Camilla Chandler Frost ’47 Center for the Environment
Researches and teaches the ethics, politics, and aesthetics of cultural heritage, art, and the environment.
My primary research interests concern the ethics, politics, and aesthetics of cultural heritage, art, and the environment. I'm especially interested in themes surrounding preservation of, access to, and control over objects, practices, and places. I have published papers on topics including repatriation, historic preservation, landscape art, cultural appropriation, irreplaceability, authenticity, place-loss due to climate change, and the value of history and heritage. For an overview of these topics, you can check out my entry on the Ethics of Cultural Heritage in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
I also enjoy writing and speaking for a general audience. I've recently given public talks at the Getty Villa, the Aspen Art Museum, the MIT School of Architecture, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. You can find a list of my public writing here. In 2018, I was awarded a Public Philosophy Op-Ed prize by the American Philosophical Association. My first book, Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to the Movies is now available for preorder from Oxford University Press: it's an academic/trade title intended for a general audience. I occasionally teach a Calderwood Seminar on writing publicly engaged philosophy.
I teach in all of my research areas, and my teaching has an important impact on the shape of my research. I regularly teach courses in environmental philosophy and philosophy of art, which you can learn more about here. In T3 I taught a new seminar called Terrible Beauties about the relationship between aesthetics and immorality. I am also a member of the Advisory Faculty for Environmental Studies and am currently serving as the Faculty Director of the new Frost Center for the Environment at Wellesley.
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). We're also the proud parents of an amazing 5-year-old.
Outside of philosophy, I enjoy playing games, watching movies/TV, reading, hiking, trying new restaurants, exploring my neighborhood, and spending time with friends and family.