Paul E. Schofield

  • 207-786-6454
  • Philosophy
  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities
  • Lecturer in Philosophy
  • Hedge Hall, Room 314

Ph.D., Harvard University; B.A., University of Notre Dame

photo(13)Paul works in ethics, political philosophy, and action theory. He will be teaching Contemporary Moral Disputes, and Philosophy from Descartes to Kant. In the past he’s taught for many courses in both moral and political philosophy, as well as in the history of philosophy.

Paul’s research focuses on two sets of questions, one moral and one political. The first set of questions surround the moral implications of a person’s relating to herself “second-personally.” It’s a commonplace to note that what’s good for a person right now might be opposed to what’s good for her in the future, and so securing a benefit now might require suffering a burden later. When this is so, a person has a choice to make: benefit herself now, or benefit herself later. This is very much like the predicament a person faces when her wellbeing conflicts with the wellbeing of other people. Once we recognize that a person relates to herself this way, a host of questions arise. Can we add up a person’s wellbeing at various moments into an aggregate that we call “the good of the person”? Or does personal wellbeing not work like that? Is it possible for a person to wrong herself by making decisions that will give her pleasure now, but cause her to suffer in the future? Or is “morality” just for our interactions with others? Do bystanders have a moral right to intervene when a person harms herself, like they would were she to harm someone else?  The second set of questions surround the political implications of the fact that multiple distinct individuals can act together as one. We often say that political communities perform actions as a unit: they go to war, tax the rich, protect the right to free speech, etc. This makes it sound like the collective is a single agent. Paul is interested in whether there a sense in which a political community, understood as a single agent, can wield collective authority over its members, and whether there is a sense in which a political community has a common good in which all its members share.

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