"In all important transactions of life we have to take a leap in the dark...Be strong and of a good courage"
I am an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University Honors College. I earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis in Spring 2015. Although I am interested in most philosophical issues, my primary research is in Ancient philosophy and ethics. In Ancient philosophy, I am currently investigating Plato's attitude towards falsity. More precisely, my research examines how in Plato's ethical theory false beliefs and defective forms of reasoning can contribute to flourishing. I'm in the process of developing a book with my colleague Tyler Paytas which is titled, Plato's Pragmatism: Rethinking the Relationship between Ethics and Epistemology. In this book, We argue that (1) Plato holds that all humans (including philosopher rulers) require false beliefs in order to live successful lives, (2) Plato maintains that living well sometimes requires all humans to believe things without sufficient evidence, and (3) Plato is right about (1) and (2). We defend this interpretation by drawing upon the Apology, the Gorgias, the Laws, the Euthydemus, the Protagoras, the Meno, the Phaedo, and the Republic, as well as Kant, Epictetus, Nietzsche, Foot, and James.
I have broad interests in ethical theory ranging from metaethics to applied ethics. In metaethics I have written on expressivism and vagueness, while in applied ethics I have written on issues concerning enhancement and sport. When it comes to normative ethics/value theory, I think that Plato got most things right. I often write on papers that defend his seemingly implausible views. For instance, I recently argued that courage involves not just a resistance to pain and fear, but a resistance to pleasure and desire as well. I also have a deep love of classics: I'm fascinated by the differences between Homeric/Heroic values and modern conceptions of morality.
I've lately been working on what having an ethical commitment and integrity means. I once -rather foolishly - thought that one could value justice intrinsically and rationally endorse some unjust acts if the rewards were high enough. After several years of arguing with Tyler Paytas I now see that this is impossible. Years before us, Philippa Foot defended a similar position, "The man who has the virtue of justice is not ready to do certain things, and if he is too easily tempted we shall say that he was ready after all." There are limiting conditions on valuing certain normative objects, these limiting conditions restrict what one can reflectively endorse. That is, following Mobb Deep, "cause ain't no such thing as half way just." I'm working on expanding this idea of ethical commitment to metaethical debates in environmental ethics. Using this nothing of ethical commitment, I seek to develop a anthropocentric way of valuing the environment.
My favorite work by Plato is the Laws. If you are interested in learning about Plato's Laws, an excellent place to begin is here :) https://www.iep.utm.edu/pla-laws/ In the future, I'm interested in developing an updated guidebook on the much underappreciated text.
I strongly believe in coauthorship; I think it is a great way to develop ideas and have fun. I have coauthored papers with Sarah Malanowksi and Tyler Paytas, and I have edited a special volume of the Plato Journal with Sophia Stone.
Before entering WUSTL, I earned an M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a B.A. in Philosophy and Humanities at the University of Northern Iowa. While at UNI I was a varsity member of their NCAA Division 1 wrestling team.
The links on the side will lead you to more information about my dissertation, publications, and C.V.
You can contact me at NichBaima [at] Gmail [dot] com