Hello and welcome! My name is Dana Howard and I'm currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. Prior to that I held a post-doctoral fellowship in the philosophy department at The Ohio State University. In August 2013, I completed my PhD in Philosophy at Brown University.
Areas of Specialization
Ethical Theory, Social and Political Philosophy, Bioethics
Areas of Competence
Feminist Philosophy, Kant, Philosophy of Education
Dissertation Project: On Behalf of Another
We often find ourselves in situations where we must not only act on behalf of others, but also decide on their behalf. My dissertation is concerned with how we ought to go about making such vicarious decisions, which I call an ethics of trusteeship. Vicarious decisions are often justified by appeal to either the predicted future endorsement, or the purported wellbeing, or the rational preferences of the person on behalf of whom we are deciding. In contrast, I argue that these standard justifications fail to account for the irreducibly interpersonal nature of vicarious decision-making. When one person, with the authority do so, decides on behalf of another, those people are engaged in a joint venture in which both parties may be held accountable for the actions done and therefore each has some legitimate claim in the vicarious decision. Given this view of trusteeship, we should justify our actions by appeal to what the principal would have authorized us to do on her behalf were we to have had the opportunity to deliberate together in good faith about how to proceed. A developed account of trusteeship provides guidance for us to navigate the important decisions we have to make on behalf of others in light of the possibility of deep, irreconcilable and perhaps even faultless disagreements between us and these others about what in life matters most or is worth pursuing.
Committee: David Estlund (Principal Advisor), Charles Larmore, Sharon Krause