Associate Professor of Philosophy; Director, Peace and Justice Studies 


BA, Stanford University; MA, PhD, Vanderbilt University

My current interest in philosophy and the academy is interdisciplinary, and interdisciplinary work is at the core of my Philosophy of Happiness course. Many think they know what happiness is, but classic philosophers and contemporary scientists continue to disagree about it. Some questions my happiness course raises and explores include: Is happiness an emotion or feeling (the viewpoint of many current investigators)? If so, does it mean the joyous insane person is happy? Is the pleased serial killer happy? Or, is happiness the activity of a flourishing life of moderation, as some Greek philosophers believe? Or something else? Why?

“In Philosophy of Violence we look at war theory and at pain theory and we apply them to current world problems. Students single out plausible theories and discern how they fare in explaining pertinent issues. Dilemmas we study include the ethics of drone technology and the psychological effects of combat violence and domestic violence.

“In all classes I welcome current research and empirical data. We read texts by psychiatrists, anthropologists, and journalists, in addition to philosophers. We ask broad questions. Students are asked to apply largely framed ideas to narrowed fields of reasoning and data. For example: Is post-traumatic stress syndrome a cross-cultural fact? The results might surprise you.”