Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin


Areas of Specialization

Ethics, Philosophy of Action


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)



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

          6. "S5 for Aristotelian Actualists" (w/ Michael Nelson) (forthcoming in Philosophical Studies)

          5. "The Platonic Model: Statement, Clarification and Defense" (Philosophical Explorations 18 (3): 378-392)

          4. "Deep Reflection: In Defense of Korsgaard's Orthodox Kantianism" (Res Philosophica 93 (Jan. 2016))

          3. "Immortality and Boredom" (w/ John Martin Fischer) (The Journal of Ethics 18 (Dec. 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 (January 2014): 342-357)


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

        (Spring 2016)

Book Review

        "Review of Robert N. Johnson's Self-Improvement: An Essay in Kantian Ethics" (Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 

         (June 2014): 535-538)

Works in Progress

        "Human Agency and Values" (in progress)

        "Contractualist Moral Agency and Blame" (under review)

         "The Devil's in the Details: Cooking Up Convincing Cases of Perversity" (under review)

         "The Significance of an Afterlife," invited contribution to End of Life Ethics (ed. John K. Davis, Routledge, January

         "Evaluating Transhumanism," invited contribution to Transhumanism and the Philosophy of Immortality (eds. S.
          Burwood, D. Came and A. Ornella)


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)


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


          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


“A Dilemma for Setiya’s Virtue Theory of Reasons” at Action, Agency, and Explanation, University of Toronto, May, 2009


“Two Worries about Current Methodology in Empirical Moral Psychology” at the Ohio State University Philosophy Graduate Conference, Ohio State University, May, 2008


“Disambiguating All-Things-Considered-‘Ought’ Statements” at Society for Student Philosophers, Pacific APA, March, 2008


“Disambiguating All-Things-Considered-‘Ought’ Statements” at FSU Graduate Student Philosophy Conference, Florida State University, September, 2007


“Comments on Coffey’s ‘The Mere Means Principle and the Expressive Nature of Treating: How Parfit Got it Wrong” at FSU Graduate Student Philosophy Conference, Florida State University, September, 2007


“Agent-Based Virtues: Fundamental Moral Concepts and the Human Agent” at Boston College Philosopher’s Forum, Boston College, February, 2007


“Practical Moral Luck and Future Success” at Hawaii International Conference on the Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii, January, 2007


“Agent-Based Virtues: Fundamental Moral Concepts and the Human Agent” at REALIA Summer Conference, Burlington, Vermont, August, 2006


“Who is Coco Bryce?: A Case Study in Personal Identity” at Gateway Graduate Philosophy Conference, University of Missouri, St. Louis, May, 2006

“Counter-Intuitionist: A Defense of Classical Quantifier Exchange” at Kent State University May 4th Graduate Student Philosophy Conference, Kent State University, March, 2006


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

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

As Primary Instructor:

UCR, Department of Philosophy

      Biomedical Ethics (UCR, Fall, 2014)

      Ethics (UCR, Fall, 2013)

      Philosophy of Law (UCR, Summer, 2011, Summer, 2010)

      Introduction to Logic (UCR, Summer, 2009)

      Ethics Seminar: Contemporary Virtue Ethics (UCR, Summer, 2009)


As Teaching Assistant:

UCR, Department of Philosophy:

      Introduction to Logic (Erich Reck, Spring, 2011)

      Evil (Michael Nelson, Winter, 2011)

      Language, Mind and Reality (Peter Graham, Fall, 2010)

      Intermediate Logic (Michael Nelson, Spring, 2010)

      Introduction to Philosophy (John M. Fischer, Winter, 2010)

      Ethics and the Meaning of Life (Andrews Reath, Winter, 2010)

      Introduction to Philosophy (Charles Siewert, Fall, 2009)

      Critical Thinking (Larry Wright, Spring, 2009)

      Introduction to Logic (William Bracken, Winter, 2009)

      Biomedical Ethics (Coleen Macnamara, Fall, 2008)

      Ethics and the Meaning of Life (Elizabeth Silversstein, Summer, 2008)


Brandeis University, Department of Philosophy

      Introduction to Philosophy (Eli Hirsch, Spring, 2007)

      Introduction to Symbolic Logic (Jerry Samet, Fall, 2006)


Graduate Courses (* indicates not taken for a letter grade)

UCR, Department of Philosophy

      Kant’s Normative Theory (Andrews Reath, Fall, 2011)*

      Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Andrews Reath, Fall, 2010)*

      Adam Smith (Andrews Reath/Paul Hoffman, Spring, 2010)*

      German for Reading Knowledge II (Amalia Herrman, Spring, 2010)*

      German for Reading Knowledge I (Amalia Herrman, Winter, 2010)

      Caring and Practical Reasoning (Agnieszka Jaworska, Fall, 2009)*

      Theories of Reference (John Perry, Spring, 2009)*

      PhD Logic Requirement (Erich Reck, Spring, 2009)

      Modal Logic (Michael Nelson, Winter, 2009)

      Jonathan Dancy (Gary Watson, Fall, 2008)*

      Theories of Explanation (Erich Reck, Spring, 2008)

      Kant and Hegel on Freedom (Pierre Keller, Spring, 2008)

      Agency (Michael Nelson, Spring, 2008)

      Moral Responsibility (John M. Fischer, Winter, 2008)

      Moral Psychology (Eric Schwitzgebel, Winter, 2008)

      Holding Responsible (Coleen Macnamara, Winter, 2008)

      Well-Being (Gary Watson, Fall, 2007)

      Self-Knowledge (Robin Jeshion, Fall, 2007)

      Psychopathy and Responsibility (Gary Watson/John Martin Fischer, Fall, 2007)


Boston University, Department of Philosophy

      Epistemology (Jaakko Hintikka, Fall, 2006)


Boston College, Department of Philosophy

      Recent Metaethics (Jorge L. A. Garcia, Spring, 2007)

      Theories of Metaphor (Eileen Sweeney, Spring, 2007)

      On Nature in Greek Philosophy (John Sallis, Fall, 2006)

      German Intensive Reading (Eikman/Mangoubi, Summer, 2006)

      Virtue and Action (Jorge L. A. Garcia, Spring, 2006)

      Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Ronald Tacelli, SJ, Spring, 2006)

      The Aristotelian Ethics (Arthur Madigan, SJ, Spring, 2006)

      20th Century Continental Ethics (Jorge L. A. Garcia, Fall, 2005)

      The Individual in Medieval Thought (Jean-Luc Solère, Fall, 2005)

      Readings and Research in Logic (Deborah Hutchins, Fall, 2005)



German (reading)

Spanish (reading, writing, speaking)



(Available upon request)