• This essay contributes to the growing number of Kierkegaard scholars who emphasize Kierkegaard’s social analysis and contribution to political thought analyzing Kierkegaard’s understanding of how the crowd shapes personal identity and how social comparison is a roadblock on the path to authentic selfhood. First, I offer a brief overview of social comparison theory, an important discovery of twentieth century social psychology. Social comparison theory (SCT) is evidenced in stories, anecdotes, an…Read more
  •  59
    Aristotle on Blaming Animals: Taking the Hardline Approach on Voluntary Action in the Nicomachean Ethics III.1–5
    Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (2): 381-397. 2019.
    This essay offers a reconstruction of Aristotle’s account of the voluntary in the Nicomachean Ethics, arguing that the voluntary grounds one notion of responsibility with two levels, and therefore both rational and non-rational animals are responsible for voluntary actions. Aristotle makes no distinction between causal and moral responsibility in the NE; rather, voluntariness and prohairesis form different bases for responsibility and make possible different levels of responsibility, but both le…Read more
  •  18
    Ethics instruction within an interdisciplinary core program involving a diverse student community representing many major fields of study presents unique challenges. Those challenges are in some ways compounded in the context of a religiously affiliated university whose spiritual and ethical commitments are grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition even as its student population reflects increasing religious diversity. The authors present one method of addressing these challenges in hopes of ins…Read more
  • Fostering Inclusivity through Social Justice Education: An Interdisciplinary Approach
    with Charles McDaniel
    In Stephanie Burrell Storms, Sarah K. Donovan & Theodora P. Williams (eds.), Breaking Down Silos for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI): Teaching and Collaboration across Disciplines, Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 51-60. 2020.
    Teaching at a private, conservative religious institution poses unique challenges for equality, diversity, and inclusivity education (EDI). Given the realities of the student population in the Honors College of a private, religious institution, it is necessary to first introduce students to the contemporary realities of inequality and oppression and thus the need for EDI. This chapter proposes a conceptual framework and pedagogical suggestions for teaching basic concepts of social justice in a t…Read more
  •  38
    This essay draws on Adam Smith’s moral sentimentalism to critique primatologist Frans de Waal’s gradualist theory of human morality. De Waal has spent his career arguing for continuity between primate behavior and human morality, proposing that empathy is a primary moral building block evident in primate behavior. Smith’s moral sentimentalism—with its emphasis on the role of sympathy in moral virtue—provides the philosophical framework for de Waal’s understanding of morality. Smith’s notion of s…Read more
  •  105
    What are the freedom-relevant conditions necessary for someone to be a morally responsible person? I examine several key authors beginning with Harry Frankfurt that have contributed to this debate in recent years, and then look back to the writings or Søren Kierkegaard to provide a solution to the debate. In this project I investigate the claims of semi-compatibilism and argue that while its proponents have identified a fundamental question concerning free will and moral responsibility—namely, t…Read more
  •  55
    Turn your gaze upward! emotions, concerns, and regulatory strategies in Kierkegaard’s Christian Discourses
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 84 (3): 323-343. 2018.
    This essay argues that there are concrete emotion regulation practices described, but not developed, in Kierkegaard’s Christian Discourses. These practices—such as attentiveness to emotion, attentional deployment, and cognitive reappraisal—help the reader to regulate her emotions, to get rid of negative, unwanted emotions such as worry, and to cultivate and nourish positive emotions such as faith, gratitude, and trust. An examination of the Discourses also expose Kierkegaard’s understanding of t…Read more
  •  268
    A Case for Virtue: Aristotle’s Psychology and Contemporary Accounts of Emotion Regulation
    Images of Europe. Past, Present, Future: ISSEI 2014 - Conference Proceedings. 2014.
    This essay argues that recent evidence in neurobiology and psychology supports Aristotle’s foundational psychology and account of self-control and demonstrates that his account of virtue is still relevant for understanding human agency. There is deep correlation between the psychological foundation of virtue that Aristotle describes in The Nicomachean Ethics (NE)—namely his distinction between the rational and nonrational parts of the soul, the way that they interact, and their respective roles …Read more
  •  686
    In this essay, I first describe Kierkegaard’s understanding of free and responsible selfhood. I then describe one of Kierkegaard’s unique contributions to freedom and responsibility – his perceptual theory of the emotions. Kierkegaard understands emotions as perceptions that are related to beliefs and concerns, and thus the self can—to some extent—freely participate in the cultivation of various emotions. In other words, one of the ways that self takes responsibility for itself is by taking resp…Read more
  •  186
    This essay is a Neo-Aristotelian critique of Frans de Waal’s evolutionary moral sentimentalism. For a sentimentalist, moral judgments are rooted in reactive attitudes such as empathy, and De Waal argues that higher primates have the capacity for empathy—they can read other agent’s minds and react appropriately. De Waal concludes that the building blocks of human morality—primarily empathy—are present in primate social behavior. I will engage de Waal from within the sentimentalist tradition itsel…Read more
  •  261
    This essay examines the recent Planet of the Apes films through the lens of recent research in primatology. The films lend imaginary support to primatologist Frans de Waal’s evolutionary moral sentimentalism; however, the movies also show that truly moral motions outstrip the cognitive capacities of the great apes. The abstract moral principles employed by the ape community in the movie require the ability to understand and apply a common underlying explanation to perceptually disparate situatio…Read more
  •  137
    The Virtuous Ensemble: Socratic Harmony and Psychological Authenticity
    Southwest Philosophy Review 30 (1): 127-136. 2014.
    We discuss two models of virtue cultivation that are present throughout the Republic: the self-mastery model and the harmony model. Schultz (2013) discusses them at length in her recent book, Plato’s Socrates as Narrator: A Philosophical Muse. We bring this Socratic distinction into conversation with two modes of intentional regulation strategies articulated by James J. Gross. These strategies are expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal. We argue that that the Socratic distinction help…Read more
  •  64
    This essay proposes that Socrates practiced various spiritual exercises, including meditation, and that this Socratic practice of meditation was habitual, aimed at cultivating emotional self-control and existential preparedness. Contemporary research in neurobiology supports the view that intentional mental actions, including meditation, have a profound impact on brain activity, neuroplasticity, and help engender emotional self-control. This impact on brain activity is confirmed via technologica…Read more