Director of Undergraduate Studies
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Philosophy
PhD, UC San Diego, 2004
My research focuses on seventeenth-century philosophy, especially moral philosophy. While most of my publications are on Spinoza, I also work on Descartes and the British Moralists. Within this area, topics of interest include the passions, moral motivation, eudaimonism, freedom and autonomy, practical reason and its relationship to theoretical reason, the basis of obligation, and theories of good and evil. I am also interested in how these issues are related to ethics today.
My current book project seeks to defend Spinoza's legacy as a chief architect of secular morality. I also have a side project on the emotion of wonder, which I hope to find time to continue developing in some way.
I believe that philosophical ethics has an important role to play in civic life. While I have not published in these areas, I am interested in environmental ethics, business ethics, and ethical issues surrounding food. I teach in these areas and I perform service in these areas, for instance, organizing conferences and advocating on issues.
Regularly Taught Courses
- PHIL 304: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Philosophy
- PHIL 502: Continental Rationalism
- PHIL 501: The British Moralists
- PHIL 103: The Ethics of Food
- PHIL 324: Business Ethics
- PHIL 370: Climate Justice in Columbia
- Spinoza’s Ethics, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, editor and co-translator with Michael Silverthorne (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
- Essays on Spinoza’s Ethical Theory, editor, with Andrew Youpa (Oxford University Press, 2014).
- Spinoza on Human Freedom: Reason, Autonomy and the Good Life (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
- “Spinoza’s Guise of the Good: Getting to the Bottom of 3p9s,” Philosophical Explorations, forthcoming 2021.
- “Spinoza on Natures: The Metaphysics of Relational Autonomy,” in Spinoza and Relational Autonomy, eds. Andrea Sangiacomo, Keith Green, Aurelia Armstrong, University of Edinburgh Press, 2019.
- “Spinoza Activities: Freedom without Independence,” in Freedom, Action, and Motivation in Spinoza’s Ethics, ed. Noa Naaman-Zauderer, Taylor and Francis, 2019.
- “Descartes on the Ethical Reliability of the Passions: A Morean Reading,” Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, volume 8, eds. Don Rutherford and Daniel Garber, Oxford University Press, 2019.
- “Spinoza’s Liberalism,” Philosophy Compass, 7 (11): 2012, 782-93.
- “Perfection and Desire: Spinoza on the Good,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 91 (1): 2010a, 97-117.
- “Spinoza’s Model of Human Nature: Rethinking the Free Man,” Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, volume 5, 2010b, 91-114.
- “Spinoza’s Benevolence: The Rational Basis for Acting to the Benefit of Others,” Journal of the History of Philosophy, 47 (4): 2009, 549-68.
- “Spinoza’s Virtuous Passions,” Review of Metaphysics, 61 (4): 2008, 759-83.
Grants and Awards
- Engineering the City of the Future: Columbia and Climate Change, $37,700 Grant from the Ann Johnson Institute for course development, a speaker’s series, and a conference (2020-2022)
- Theme Semester Course Development Grant for Climate Justice and Columbia from the College of Arts and Sciences, UofSC (2020)
- Faculty Affiliate, Groningen Center for Early Modern Studies