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Me

I am a Lecturer of Philosophy at Texas State University. I study the relationship between emotion and morality, the influence of evolution on human thought and action, and the problems raised by scientific studies of emotion. I approach all of these issues with a steady eye on empirical developments in a number of fields. Among them are neuroscience, psychology, behavioral economics and animal behavior.

Current Research

My current research looks at the relationship between anger and retribution. The capacity for anger includes a distinctive motivation to react to provocation. Like the motive for retribution, this motivation is backward-looking. It aims to react to past events rather than to secure future outcomes. Without such a motivation, it is unlikely that we would find certain retributive intuitions as compelling. Specifically, we would be less likely to punish based on what transgressors deserve and more likely to punish strategically, in order to secure good outcomes associated with punishment (e.g. deterrence or rehabilitation). The questions I try to answer: Why do we have this motivation? Why should we care about responding to past insults or grievances? Does evolution help to explain this? Once we understand the evolution of this particular motivation, will it become any more intelligible? Should we continue to value retributive punishment or would an evolutionary explanation allow us to undermine the credibility of retributive justifications for punishment?

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