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Mentoring and Student Research

My teaching experience often plays a vital role in my research. Luckily for me, Cal Poly adopts the Teacher-Scholar model for faculty, emphasizing the importance of scholarship for teaching and teaching for scholarship, including, when possible, meaningful student engagement in faculty scholarship and including scholarship in one's teaching. Please see below for information about mentorship through Cal Poly's Senior Projects and collaborative research projects with my students through Cal Poly's BEACoN program.

Senior Project Advising

At Cal Poly,  all students are required to complete a senior project to graduate. This is an expression of the university's ethos: learn by doing. For philosophy majors, learn by doing means doing philosophy! The senior project for philosophy majors typically consists of writing a substantial research paper under the supervision of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member.  I am happy to supervise senior projects on a number of topics related to my areas of specialization and competence. Please see below for lists of the topics of current and past senior projects I've supervised.

Upcoming, Current, and Past Senior Project Topics:

David Lewis's Theory of Causation

Theistic Metaethics

Theories of Beauty

Free Agency and Mental Health

Physicalism and The Causal Theory of Action

Free Will and Utilitarianism about Moral Responsibility

Free Will Skepticism

Manipulation Arguments for Incompatibilism

Grounding and Post-Modal Metaphysics

The Ontological Argument for God's Existence

Idealism in Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Strawsonian Accounts of Moral Responsibility

Critiquing Cartesian Arguments for Mind-Body Dualism

Philosophical Zombies and Cognitive Science

Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy

The Morality of Manipulation

Actualist Accounts of Modality: Essentialism vs. Dispositionalism

Morality without Free Will


BEACoN Research Project

Free Will and Anger at Injustice, Winter 2021- Spring 2022

Project Abstract: Some philosophers think that no one has free will. It is not up to us what we do. Perhaps everything we do is just the product of brain mechanisms that are out of our control, or that physics says there is only one possible future, or that everything is ultimately lucky due to quantum indeterminism. Importantly, if it is not up to us what we do, it seems that our actions are not deserving of blame or punishment; no actions are worth being angry about. Why? It would be unfair to angrily blame someone who could not have avoided doing something wrong. It would be unjust to punish someone who was not in control over what they were doing. On the other hand, other philosophers have suggested that our confidence in the fact that we are morally responsible—that some people really do deserve angry blame—itself constitutes a reason to believe in free will. In this project, we will investigate the connection between free will and the aptness of anger. We will focus on work on anger that emphasizes anger at oppression by contemporary ethicists, especially those concerned with feminism and anti-racism. Can a free will skeptic accommodate concerns about anger at injustice? Are there places where pro and anti-anger thinking converge, such as in criminal justice reform or non-violent response to wrongdoing? Could an argument be made for free will from justice struggles? Let’s find out!

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