Center for Values and Social Policy


Art and Society
Environmental Ethics
Family Ethics
Social Justice
Terrorism and War


While most work at the Center seeks to connect important developments in ethics with current events, public affairs, and public policies, many of the philosophy values faculty also work on topics that can loosely be categorized as “theory” questions. This category of questions includes metaethics, normative ethics, and political theory, among other subvariants.


Issues addressed in metaethics involve questions about the nature of morality. Such questions include, for instance, the nature of moral properties, the nature of the good, the nature of the right, and the nature of value generally. Philosophers Graham Oddie and Michael Huemer, among others, spend much of their time focusing on such questions.


Issues addressed in normative ethics involve questions about how one ought to live or what one ought to do. Typically, the normative ethicist might ask how certain approaches can provide action guidance, whether consequences or principles are adequate determinants of the goodness or rightness of an action, the relationship between desires and beliefs, what establishes moral responsibility, and what is involved the development of good character. Philosophers Chris Heathwood, Robert Hanna, Michael Zimmerman, and Benjamin Hale focus on many of these normative questions.


Issues addressed in political theory involve questions about the nature of political systems, the relationship between political systems and the rights of individuals, theories of justice, theories of the state, and theories of property. Philosophers Alison Jaggar, Claudia Mills, David Boonin and others have written and published extensively on such subjects.


Graham Oddie has written numerous books and articles on metaethics. He is interested mostly in value theory. His book Value, Reality, and Desire, was published by Oxford University Press in 2005.

Chris Heathwood works in theoretical ethics, especially on questions concerning welfare, or what makes someone's life go well, and questions in metaethics.

Bob Hanna has been working on questions relating to Kant's ethics and Kant's metaphysics. His current project is a study of the problem of free will, the metaphysics of persons, and Kantian ethics.

Michael Huemer has is author of the book Ethical Intuitionism and has written several papers on the nature of moral claims.


Alison Jaggar has written numerous books and articles on feminist political theory. Among many other books and articles, she is author of Feminist Politics and Human Nature.

Claudia Mills has worked extensively on questions of coercion and manipulation. She has edited books on Values and Public Policy, The Moral Foundations of Civil Rights, and Liberalism Reconsidered.

David Boonin has a written a book on Thomas Hobbes and moral virtue.

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