I was trained at UCLA and came to Stanford as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities in 2011. I joined the faculty in 2013.
I teach courses and write papers in Moral Philosophy. I also have interests in Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Action, Metaphysics, and Epistemology, especially (though not exclusively) where these areas overlap with Moral Philosophy. I also have an abiding interest in the history of ethics (especially Hume, Nietzsche, and Kant), which informs both my teaching and my writing.
At bottom, I am most interested in the basic questions that classically define the subject of moral philosophy: What is the best kind of life, and where does morality fit into it? What is moral motivation and how does it differ from other ways of being motivated? How much is morality universal, how much a product of custom, history, and other forms of contingency? How are we to balance moral values and other kinds of values when they conflict? How seriously should we take moral skepticism?
Sometimes I find these big questions a little daunting, however, so in my own work I often try to sneak up on them, starting with topics that are a little more mundane. In particular, I have written about the ethics of promising, interpersonal trust, lying, and the importance of taking people at their word. Of course, I think these topics are well worth thinking about in their own right: much of the day to day substance of ethical life is about keeping your word, not letting others down when they are counting on you, and being as honest as you can with yourself and others. Thinking through these topics has also helped me make progress on moral philosophy’s perennial questions, by helping to pose and to think about the "bigger" problems in ways that seem a little more familiar, more concrete, and more tractable.
Here you'll find abstracts of papers I have written (and some that I am still writing!), with links to most of them. You can find a copy of my CV here. You can also check out my personal website: jorahdannenberg.com