rblackman@colgate.edu (512) 294 - 1515

There are millions of websites out there and you've landed on this one. I think you can do better.

I'm an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Colgate University. I have been an assistant to a professor of philosophy, and my current position is considerably better. I specialize in meta-ethics and the emotions, and also do work on free will and Nietzsche.

I teach a wide variety of classes: Practical Reason, Meta-Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Free Will, Environmental Ethics, Medical Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, and Introduction to Philosophy.

To the right is a picture of me. The lack of a smile indicates that I'm a serious scholar while the background demonstrates my willingness to engage with the external world in a more concrete way. There might also be the implication that, like the wave behind me, I'm a force of nature. But a very small one.

  • CV (pdf)



My research runs along several related strands...

1) In "Meta-Ethical Realism with Good of a Kind" (forthcoming in The European Journal of Philosophy) I articulate and defend a variety of Aristotelianism, though I part from Aristotle and some neo-Aristotelians in thinking that we cannot ground evaluations of people and their lives by appeal to their membership in the kind 'human being'. I defend what I call Role Aristotelianism, a meta-ethical position, according to which evaluations of people and their lives are grounded in the roles they occupy, e.g. mother, philosopher, citizen, moral agent, and so on. In another paper in this vein, "Two Varieties of Aristotelianism," I argue that the neo-Aristotelian positions embraced by Foot, Hursthouse, and Thompson are untenable.

2) My (Role) Aristotelianism is motivated, in part, by my ethical anti-realist tendencies. I'm working on a paper in moral epistemology, entitled "Goodblindness or Illusion?", in which I argue that we do not have any (good) evidence for thinking that any object instantiates the property of being good simpliciter. This does not lead us to anti-realism in general, though, since Role Aristotelianism is a realist position...phew!

3) Connected with my metaethical position is research in moral psychology, where I focus on what it is to have an ideal. In "What is an Ideal?" (a title that required the complete exhaustion of my creative talents), I argue that an agent's having an ideal is a matter of various facts striking the agent as reasons, where those facts relate to her being a good member of the kinds of which she is a member. Having the ideal of being a good philosopher, for example, involves seeing the fact that studying Plato would sharpen one's philosophical skills as a reason for studying Plato.

4) I have somewhat recently become particularly interested in philosophy of mind and philosophy of emotion. I started with the very general question, 'what is an emotion?', and quite frankly, I have yet to come to a conclusion. In "Intentionality and Compound Accounts of the Emotions" (forthcoming in The Southern Journal of Philosophy), I argue that emotions are wholes made of parts (or put differently, they are mental states that supervene on other mental states), and in "A Defense of Cognitivism about the Emotions" I articulate and defend a variety of cognitivism that, married with functionalism about the mind and recent work on the possibility (and actuality) of mental states with nonconceptual content, avoids all of the objections levied against cognitivism.

5) Connected with my work in metaethics and philosophy of emotion/mind is work on practical reasons and reasons for emotion. In "Pathetic Rationality and Practical Reason," I argue for a view according to which reasons for emotions are not grounded in an agent's desires, and that this view (which is true, of course!) is incompatible with Humeanism about practical reason, so Humeanism is false.

6) In connection with my work on practical reason is a paper on free will. In "Yes We Can: Arguments in Defense of Compatibilism," I offer a (new) defense of 'ought implies can' and, in conjunction with general considerations about practical reasons and determinism, argue that even if determinism is true we can do other than what we do.

7) Utterly unrelated from my other research is scholarship on Nietzsche, an interest in which was planted in me when I was an undergraduate. In "Nietzsche's 'Interpretation' in the Genealogy" (in The British Journal for the History of Philosophy) I offer a novel interpretation of what Nietzsche is doing in the third treatise of his The Genealogy of Morality. I am currently working on a paper that is concerned with a theme I discuss in that paper: the extent to which Nietzsche thinks our evaluative judgments are objective.

Papers in Progress



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