Kelly Epley


About me

I completed my Ph. D. in Philosophy in 2016 at the University of Oklahoma. My dissertation was titled Emotions, Reasons, and Rationality. My advisor was Wayne Riggs and my committee included Amy Olberding, Sherri Irvin, Linda Zagzebski, and Jill Irvine. I completed my B.A. in Philosophy in Spring 2008 at Oklahoma State University.

Current Projects


My research is on philosophy of emotions, focusing on rationality, responsibility, and self-cultivation. Though our means of controlling our emotions are indirect, I argue that we generally bear a great deal of responsibility for them. We can influence our immediate emotional responses with reflective tools such as information elaboration, attention redirection, and imagination. This help us to interfere with processes that sustain the emotion, changing its course. At the same time, this helps us to re-calibrate our emotional dispositions.

The reflective tools that we use to influence and correct our emotions may not bring our emotions to accord with our judgments about what's correct or appropriate. Instead, they may show us that we missed something important in judging as we did. This raises concerns that our emotions may sometimes insidiously influence our judgments by drawing our attention to the wrong things or causing us to rationalize. At the same time, we know that we make mistakes in judgment and that our conflicting emotions can help us identify and fix our mistakes. So the question is: How do we to manage the risk of rationalizing without sacrificing the need to check our potentially erroneous judgments?

I draw from contemporary psychology and neuroscience as well as contemporary philosophy of emotions, rationality, and irrational states (e.g. akrasia, implicit bias). I also have broader interests in the role of emotions in self-cultivation and ethical development, and in the ethics of care.

Upcoming Presentations

  • "Norms of Emotional Expression in Care Ethics and Confucianism," Rectifying the Name of Confucianism, Boston University, September 28-30

Recent Presentations

  • “Revisiting the Question: Emotion-Judgment Conflicts and Rational Attitude Revision,” Feeling Reasons: the Role of Emotions in Reasoning International Workshop, Eidyn Research Centre of the University of Edinburgh, May 24-26, 2017
  • “Revisiting the Question: Emotion-Judgment Conflicts and Rational Attitude Revision,” Bled Philosophical Conference on Virtue and Epistemic Skill, Bled, Slovenia, June 5-9, 2017

The Deviant Philosopher

I co-edit a diversity-focused teaching project called The Deviant Philosopher. The project is premised on the idea that there is great value in providing our students with curriculum that thoughtfully and deliberately presses beyond the Anglo-American philosophical canon. We've created a website that provides instructors with advice about how to familiarize themselves with new, non-canonical texts and topics, how to integrate them into a variety of course arcs, and how to teach them effectively.


  • "Emotions, Attitudes, and Reasons," forthcoming in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
  • “Care Ethics and Confucianism: Caring through Li,” Hypatia 10.10 (2015): 881-896.
  • Review of Alexis Shotwell Knowing Otherwise: Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding, American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience 13.2 (Spring 2014): 16-18.

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Philosophy Writing Workshop
  • Introduction to Asian Philosophy
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Introduction to Logic
  • English Composition
  • First Year Seminar


I spend my spare time perfecting my baking skills and doting on my cats Clarence and Arthur.