About the Author

I am a Professor of Philosophy in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University.

My research focuses mainly on morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two, but I have also written on well-being, posthumous harm, and the non-identity problem. Currently, I am working on a book tentatively entitled Our Fundamental Normative Obligations: The Centrality of Attitudes. The book argues that we have obligations not only to perform certain actions, but also to have certain attitudes (such as desires, beliefs, and intentions), and this despite the fact that we often do not have direct voluntary control over our attitudes. Moreover, it is argued that our obligations with respect to attitudes are our most fundamental normative obligations. Thus, our obligations with respect to actions derive from these more fundamental obligations with respect to attitudes such that an agent is obligated to perform an action if and only if it’s the action that she would perform if she were to have the attitudes that she ought to have. This view, which I call attitudism, has three important implications. First, it implies that an adequate practical theory must not be exclusively act-orientated. That is, it must require more of us than just the performance of certain voluntary acts. Second, it implies that an adequate practical theory must be attitude-dependent. That is, it must hold that what we ought to do depends on what attitudes we ought to have. Third, it implies that no adequate practical theory can require us to perform acts that we would not perform even if we were to have the attitudes that we ought to have. I then show how these implications can help us both to address certain puzzling cases of rational choice and to understand why most typical practical theories (utilitarianism, rational egoism, virtue ethics, Rossian deontology, etc.) are mistaken.

My other book  Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) defends a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral convictions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons. Although the primary aim of the book is to defend a particular consequentialist theory (viz., commonsense consequentialism), it defends this theory as part of a coherent whole concerning our commonsense views about the nature and substance of both morality and rationality.

I am also the author of several journal articles, appearing in Noûs, Mind, Ethics, Ratio, Utilitas, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy Compass, Journal of Philosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy & Phenomenological Research, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.

Before coming to Arizona State University in 2005, I taught at the College of Charleston from 1998-2000 and at California State University, Northridge from 2000-2005. I received a bachelor's degree in philosophy and political science from the University of California, San Diego in 1991, and master's and doctorate degrees in philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1993 and 1998, respectively. During the 2008-09 academic year, I was a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Public Affairs, Murphy Institute, Tulane University. Lastly, I am one of the founders of, and a current contributor to, PEA Soup a blog dedicated to the discussion of philosophy, ethics, and academia.

Curriculum Vitae: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/14740340/cv.pdf

Contact Information

School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Arizona State University
P.O. Box 874302
Tempe, AZ 85287-4302

Homepage: https://sites.google.com/site/dwportmore/
Phone: 480-965-5778 | Fax: 480-965-0310
E-mail: douglas.portmore@asu.edu