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I'm Mark van Roojen, a professor of philosophy at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. I mainly teach and publish in the areas of ethics, metaethics and political philosophy. Here is a very quick overview of the things I work on.
Most of my publications have been on metaethics. Most of you reading this will already know what that is. For those who don't, I can help a little bit. Metaethics is a reasonably abstract subfield of ethicshaving to do with issues surrounding the nature of moral judgements and properties. Sometimes these issues are pursued by arguing for views about the nature of the subject matter but sometimes philosophers also pursue these issues by giving an account of what it is to have a view about ethics. That's probably not all that helpful. There is a nice annotated bibliography of metaethics at Jimmy Lenman's website here.
My own work in metaethics has focused especially on the connections between moral judgements and reasons and motivations for acting as these judgements commend. I'm pretty taken by the idea that it is important that moral judgements can justify and provide reasons for action and also that these reasons are the sorts of things that must be able to motivate those to whom they apply. I've also written a fair number of papers on noncognitivism for someone who is not a noncognitivist. In particular, the Frege-Geach problem poses a challenge for such views that has interested me. As I think of it that problem is about providing a compositional semantics for all ordinary moral constructions that makes sense of how we use them and of their logical connections to one another. The issue gets pretty technical. A bit of work related to this that is supposed to be more accessible to a general audience is an entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Non-cognitivism. It was originally posted in January of 2004 and revised more recently. As with many narratives, the first version of the entry was a bit more unified than the current version which was revised in light of recent developments. If I were writing it from scratch today it might wind up with a different emphasis and structure because of this. But it is not a bad intro to the subject matter.
Normative Ethics and Political Philosophy
I also have interests in Normative Ethics and Political Philosophy. With respect to normative ethical theory I am quite interested in the debates between consequentialists and non-consequentialists and in particular in the best ways to defend non-consequentialism. My paper on satisficing and maximizing that is in the Michael Byron volume by Cambridge University Press ( pdf here) summarized at abstracts page is probably the best example of my work on such issues. I can't claim to be up on all of political philosophy, but I find it pretty interesting and I teach it fairly regularly. I am most interested in issues of distributive justice, though I am also trying to get a handle on democratic theory.I have a paper I've been working for some time that argues that a Rawlsian Conception of Justice according to which the smallest representative share of social goods should be as great as possible is in fact required by the proper understanding of our prima facie duty not to harm other people. A version of that is now out in Acta Analytica, but I have a longer version of it that can be downloaded from the abstracts page linked below.
Getting Access to My Published WorkIf you are interested in any of this, you can check out a page with abstracts of my published work along with links to pdfs of most of the articles I've completed and published so far. There are a couple of more things I should be adding soon.
As for my more recent stuff, I have a paper on moral rationalism and rational amoralism (copy here) that I've been working on for many years in the April 2010 issue of Ethics. It is about the ways in which a moral rationalist account of ethics can handle the idea that rational people may act immorally or amorally. One of the things I like about it is some discussion of the interaction between Frege's Puzzle and Internalism about moral judgements. That paper became the topic of an on line discussion sponsered by the Journal Ethics and the blog Pea Soup. You can find that discussion here. I mean to continue developing the ideas in this paper over the next several years.
And I have some less finished work. Some of it was presented at RoME conferences in Colorado. One is on practical conditionals and the other is on moral intuitionism and empirical debunking arguments. I'll be working on that second one over this coming summer and Fall for a forthcoming volume on Intuitions that should be forthcoming at OUP. You can find PDFs of some version or other of these papers on my As Yet Unpublished Papers page for your reading pleasure.
I've got a couple of other things in the works that aren't yet where I want to make them public even as drafts (I'm insecure). I'll add info about those as I become happier with them.
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