Research Assistantship Opportunity

30 Aug

Prof. David DeGrazia of the Department of Philosophy has three article-length projects in progress for this academic year.  He seeks a research assistant, ideally for the full year, to work between four and six hours a week for two credit hours.  Interested students should contact Catherine at for more information and an application!

Keep reading for all the details…

The main fall project will be a paper on the ethics of using biomedical means to improve people’s moral character or behavior.  Efforts to shape moral psychology are presumably as old as human society itself.  With society come moral norms and a collective interest in people’s conforming to them.  Hence moral education, social sanctions, laws, and other familiar devices whose purpose is to influence individuals in the direction of moral behavior.  While these efforts to shape moral psychology may date to the beginning of human society, the use of biomedical means to this end is a recent development.  This development motivates various questions, several of which I will address in my presentation.

From December through February, Prof. DeGrazia plans to work on an article on the nature of suffering, its occurrence among animals, and its moral importance.  This paper has been commissioned for a volume on suffering and bioethics, to be published by Oxford University Press.  The article will explore in greater detail and rigor the neuroanatomy of suffering, which will be particularly important to determining what kinds of animals can suffer. The research assistant will help with this component of the research—and also assist in tracking down leading literature from recent years on the nature of suffering.

From March through the summer, he plans to begin an article on gun control, in particular that (1) surveys the leading arguments in support of a moral right to individual gun ownership and (likely, but with potential to change) (2) contends that all such arguments fail.  The RA will help with needed factual background on existing gun laws, proposals for reform, statistics on gun deaths and their circumstances, and other relevant information as well as leading ethical arguments for and against individual gun ownership rights.


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