Faculty Profile

James Sias

Assistant Professor of Philosophy (2013)

Contact Information

siasj@dickinson.edu

East College Room 210
717.245.1217
http://jamessias.com

Bio

My research tends to focus on either (a) questions about the foundations of ethics, or (b) questions about the nature of moral cognition. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how moral "outliers" (i.e., people who think and behave in ways radically different from most) recognize and respond to the moral features of the world. In my recent book, The Meaning of Evil (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), I examine the psychologies of people commonly regarded as evil, and on this basis, argue that what makes a person evil is the particular way in which he sees, or regards, others in the moral community. I'm currently working on a number of papers that further pursue issues raised in the book. And in the not-too-distant future, I'd like to do some work on (i) the moral psychology of racism, (ii) the nature of mental illness and its significance in and to the moral community, and (iii) the psychologies of so-called "moral saints." So if you've got any interesting thoughts about these issues, I'd like to hear them. Preferably over coffee.

Curriculum Vitae

Education

  • B.S., Point University, 2005
  • M.A., Georgia State University, 2007
  • M.A., University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2009
  • Ph.D., 2013

2016-2017 Academic Year

Fall 2016

PHIL 102 Moral Problems
An introduction to ethics treating normative ethical theories and their philosophical underpinnings, with consideration of contemporary moral problems.

PHIL 401 Senior Seminar
A seminar focusing in depth on a selected philosophical topic, author or text with special emphasis on student philosophical writing and voice. Prerequisites: three prior courses in philosophy, at least one at the 300-level, or permission of the instructor.

Spring 2017

PHIL 102 Moral Problems
An introduction to ethics treating normative ethical theories and their philosophical underpinnings, with consideration of contemporary moral problems.

PHIL 261 Modern Moral Philosophy
This course examines some of the major theories, issues, and debates in moral philosophy during the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition to such major figures as Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and Jeremy Bentham, we’ll read and discuss the work of lesser-known figures like Samuel Clarke, Joseph Butler, and Thomas Reid.

PHIL 261 Evil
Can people be evil? Can our actions be evil? If no, why not? And if yes, how so? These are the main questions that we’ll attempt to answer in this course. For the first part of the course, we’ll discuss various reasons for being skeptical of evil. Then we’ll treat evil as a topic in moral psychology, asking what kinds of psychological features purportedly evil people and actions have in common. And finally, we’ll examine a number of philosophical theories of evil.

PHIL 500 Independent Study