Email: dwportmore@gmail.com
Phone: (480) 965-5778
Fax: (480) 965-0310
Office: 3362 Coor Hall
Office Hours: Mondays from 11 AM - noon and Wednesdays from noon to 1 PM, extending from 1/12/15 - 5/1/15, but excluding 1/19/15, 2/11/15, 3/9/15, and 3/11/15.
Mailing address: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Coor Hall, Room 4595
P.O. Box 874302
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-4302








I am Head of Philosophy and a Professor of Philosophy in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. I'm also Associate Editor and Discussion Notes Editor at the Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy. During June and July 2015, I'll be a Visiting Fellow within the School of Philosophy, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National 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 Importance of Attitudes. The book argues that we have obligations not only to voluntarily perform certain actions, but also to involuntarily form certain reasons-responsive attitudes (e.g., desires, beliefs, and intentions). For, as I argue, agents have, in the relevant sense, just as much control over which attitudes they form as which acts they perform. This is important because what effect an act will have on the world depends not only on which acts the agent will simultaneously and subsequently be performing, but also on which attitudes she will simultaneously and subsequently be forming. And this all leads me to adopt a new type of practical theory, which I call rational possibilism. On this theory, we first evaluate the entire set of things over which the agent exerts control, where this includes the formation of certain attitudes as well as the performance of certain acts. And, then, we evaluate individual acts as being permissible if and only if, and because, there is such a set that is itself permissible and that includes the act as a proper part. Importantly, this theory has two unusual features. First, it is not exclusively act-orientated, for it requires more from us than just the performance of certain voluntary acts. It requires, in addition, that we involuntarily form certain attitudes. Second, it is attitude-dependent in that it holds that which acts we’re required to perform depends on which attitudes we’re required to form. I have a research leave from teaching during both Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 to work on the book.

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. And I spent 1994 at Monash University to study with Michael Smith and Peter Singer among others. During the 2008-09 academic year, I was a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Public Affairs, Murphy Institute, Tulane University. Before all that, I attended elementary school at Ahuimanu Elementary School, middle school at Le Jardin Academy, and high school at Punahou School and Torry Pines High School. 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.