Faculty Profile

Jim Sias

Assistant Professor of Philosophy (2013)

Contact Information

siasj@dickinson.edu

Allison Hall Room 2
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 (a) the nature of mental illness and its significance in and to the moral community, and (b) 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

2018-2019 Academic Year

Fall 2018

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

PHIL 261 Philosophy of Humor
Examination of specific problem, author, text, or movement. Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Spring 2019

PHIL 102 Introduction to Ethics
An introduction to the philosophical study of morality, focusing on concepts of right and wrong, virtue and vice, and wellbeing. This course provides students the opportunity to hone their ethical reasoning skills by critically examining how some of history’s most influential philosophers thought about issues in morality. Students will also develop more general skills, such as evaluating philosophical arguments, and expressing and defending their own ideas in writing.

PHIL 257 Moral Psychology
An investigation of philosophical issues at the intersection of ethics and psychology. For example, is there any empirical basis to beliefs about free will and moral responsibility? What are emotions, and what role do they have to play in our moral lives? How can so many intelligent and open-minded people reach such radically different moral conclusions? Are there really such things as traits of virtue and vice? These are among the issues we’ll explore in this course.Prerequisite: One PHIL course, or permission of instructor.

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.