Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin


Areas of Specialization

Ethics, Philosophy of Action, Death and Dying


Areas of Competence

Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Mind, Biomedical Ethics, Logic


        Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Sam Houston State University

                                                                                                            July 2015 -

        Postdoc in Philosophy for the Immortality Project, University of California, Riverside

                                                                                                            August, 2012 - June 2015



University of California, Riverside                             PhD    June, 2012


Boston College                                                               MA     May, 2007


Residential College                                                        BA       December, 2002

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor                            (with Honors)

(Major: Creative Writing and Literature)



          8. "Unraveling the Knot: On Race, Racism, and Human History" (forthcoming in Think)

          7. "S5 for Aristotelian Actualists" (w/ Michael Nelson) (Philosophical Studies 173 (2016): 1537-1569)

          6. "Deep Reflection: In Defense of Korsgaard's Orthodox Kantianism" (Res Philosophica 93 (2016): 1-25)

          5. "Aligning with the Good" (Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy (July 2015))

          4. "The Platonic Model: Statement, Clarification and Defense" (Philosophical Explorations 18 (2015): 378-392)

          3. "Immortality and Boredom" (w/ John Martin Fischer) (The Journal of Ethics 18 (2014): 353-372)

          2. "The Near-Death Experience Argument Against Physicalism: A Critique" (w/ John Martin Fischer)

               (Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 21, No. 7-8 (July/August 2014): 158-183)

         1. "In Defense of the Platonic Model: A Reply to Buss" (Ethics, Vol. 124, No. 2 (2014): 342-357)


        Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife (w/ John Martin Fischer), Oxford University           

        Press (June 2016)

Book Chapters

        2. "(Not) Riding into the Sunset: The Significance of Endings" (w/ John Martin Fischer) in Zachary J. Goldberg, 

        ed., Reflections on Responsibility: Essays in Honor of Peter French, Springer (2017)

     1. "The Significance of an Afterlife" in John Davis, ed., Ethics at the End of Life Ethics: New Issues and Arguments

        Routledge (2017)

Edited Volume

    Immortality (w/ John Martin Fischer), special issue of The Journal of Ethics (December 2015)

Book Reviews

        2. "Review of Randolph Clarke, Michael McKenna, and Angela Smith, eds., The Nature of Moral Responsibility:            

         New Essays" (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

        1. "Review of Robert N. Johnson's Self-Improvement: An Essay in Kantian Ethics" (Journal of Moral                              

         Philosophy 11 (June 2014): 535-538)

Writing for a Popular Audience 

        Life, Death, and the Self (a blog at Psychology Today)

        "Science, sincerity, and transformation of near-death experiences" (at the OUP Blog)

Media Interviews

        Houston Matters

        Religion Dispatches 

Honors and Awards

Outstanding Teaching Assistant (UCR, Spring, 2012)

Dissertation Year Fellowship (UCR, Fall, 2011- Winter, 2012)

Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Finalist (2011)

Travel Grant (UCR Department of Philosophy, 2011)

Travel Grant (UCR Department of Philosophy, 2010)

Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship (UCR, Fall, 2007-Spring, 2008)

Robertson Award (excellence in creative writing) (UM Residential College, 2003)

University Honors (UM, 2002)

Selected Presentations

          Invited panelist for "When the Bell Tolls," a Bookend Event of the 2016 Brooklyn Book Festival, September 17, 2016

            Author-meets-critic session on Near-Death Experiences at the 2016 Conference of the International Association 

           for the Philosophy of Death and Dying, Syracuse University, May 18, 2016

            Invited contributor to “The History of Mortality: Interdisciplinary Perspectives,” the University of California                  

            Humanities Research Institute, January 23, 2015

         "Human Agency and Values," at the University of Redlands, October, 2014 (invited colloquium)

         "Comments on Buehler's 'Attention, and Agential Control of Bodily Action,'" at the Pacific APA, April, 2014

        "Comments on Davis and Rantanen," at the California Polytechnic University, Pomona, Mini-Conference on                     

        Radical Life Extension, March, 2014


        "How Not to Argue About Self-Governance" at the University of San Francisco, August, 2013

       "Two Interpretations of Contractualist Moral Agency" at the Pacific APA, March, 2013

"Comments on Robinson's 'The Limits of "Limited Blockage" Frankfurt-Style Cases'" at the Pacific APA, April, 2012

“Self-Governance, Moral Responsibility and Weakness of Will: In Defense of the Platonic Model” at the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, University of Colorado, August, 2011


“Self-Governance and Moral Responsibility” at Moral Responsibility: Analytic Approaches, Substantive Accounts and Case Studies, Ghent, Belgium, October, 2010


“Comments on Eason’s ‘The Ownership Condition of Guidance Control: Responding to Empirical Challenges” at the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, University of Colorado, August 2010


“Might Intentions Be Reasons?” at the NYU/Columbia Graduate Student Philosophy Conference, Columbia University, April, 2010


Professional Service

Referee for European Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Explorations, Disputatio, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Res Philosophica, Philosophical Studies, Mind, Philosophia, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Law and Philosophy, Consciousness and Cognition, Southern Journal of Philosophy

Session Chair at the Pacific APA (April, 2011; April, 2010)

Graduate Representative, UCR Department of Philosophy (Fall, 2008-Spring, 2010)

Member of Boston College Graduate Student Philosophy Conference paper selection committee (Spring, 2006)

Membership in Professional Organizations

       American Philosophical Association

       Society for Philosophy of Agency

Editorial and Professional Activities

Author of Companion Site materials for Steven M. Cahn’s Exploring Philosophy (4th Ed.)

Research Assistant for development of Oxford Scholarship Online abstracts for Gary Watson’s Agency and Answerability


Teaching Experience

SHSU, Department of Psychology and Philosophy

       Contemporary Moral Issues (Summer 2015, Spring 2016, Summer 2016)

       Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2015, Summer 2016, Fall 2016)

       Death and Dying (Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Summer 2016, Fall 2016)

UCR, Department of Philosophy

      Biomedical Ethics (Fall 2014)

      Ethics (Fall 2013)

      Philosophy of Law (Summer 2011, Summer 2010)

      Introduction to Logic (Summer 2009)

      Ethics Seminar: Contemporary Virtue Ethics (Summer 2009)



Evaluators, Explainers, Planners:

The Importance of Basic Conceptions of What We Are Like as Agents

This dissertation develops an observation about several contemporary accounts of human action and applies it to debates in agency theory and moral theory. The observation is that these accounts of action share a structure but disagree on how to fill it in. They all hold that there is some set of attitudes or commitments from which self-governing agents cannot be alienated, but due to fundamentally distinct conceptions of what we are like as agents, they each identify different inalienable attitudes or commitments. This observation illuminates debates in agency theory and moral theory by identifying the real source of disagreement at issue. And this affects how we should understand the contours of these debates. For example, some arguments against rival views fail because they depend on a conception of the agent that is not shared. It also helps to identify internal inconsistencies in views composed of elements that assume distinct fundamental conceptions of the agent.


Committee: Andrews Reath (chair), John Martin Fischer, Agnieszka Jaworska, Michael Nelson, Gary Watson