My hope for my students is that they will leave my courses with critical thinking, reading, and reflection skills they did not have when they enrolled. To that end, I build most of my courses around small-group activities and guided discussions designed to provide opportunities for practice of the component skills of academic "deep" reading, as well as the component skills of philosophical argumentation and theorizing.


Doing Practical Ethics, co-written with Jason Swartwood, Oxford University Press, 2021. [ publisher | powell's | amazon | b&n ]

Doing Practical Ethics supports the deliberate practice of component philosophical skills relevant to understanding, evaluating, and developing arguments in forms commonly used in the field of practical ethics. Each chapter includes an explanation of a specific moral reasoning skill, exercise sets, and demonstration exercises with sample solutions that offer students immediate feedback on their practice attempts. The book can be used as a primary text in skills-focused courses, or as a supplement to existing anthologies of articles in more traditional courses.

Jason and I discussed the pedagogical principles that structure the book in an OUP webinar cleverly titled "Teaching Practical Ethics."

Patrick Brissey wrote a positive review for Teaching Philosophy.

Instructors: please request an examination copy or download a sample packet that includes the table of contents, introduction, and chapter 5.

Writing About Teaching

"WORDMORPH!: A Word Game to Introduce Natural Deduction." Teaching Philosophy 41, no. 2, (2018): 185-190. [ doi | pre-print ]

Some logic students falter at the transition from the purely mechanical method of truth tables to the less-mechanical method of natural deduction. This short paper introduces a word game intended to ease that transition.

Sample Syllabi

Phil 1722: Health Care Ethics (Online) (Saint Paul College)

This syllabus outlines a relatively novel way to teach some traditional issues in health care ethics. Forged in the fires of covid-19, it is an attempt to meet two goals. First, to very tightly align skills, content, and assessments in a way that will be immediately accessible to students who have never taken a course online. Second, to allow a flexibility of pacing that will leave no students behind, even if they fall ill for a couple of weeks during the term.

Phil 3400: Biomedical Ethics (St. Catherine University)

Nearly every aspect of medical practice is liable to present ethical questions. When, if ever, is it OK for caregivers to lie to patients? What research practices should we ban on ethical grounds, even when such a ban is likely to slow the progress of life-saving discoveries? Should caregivers ever help a patient die? Under what circumstances is it permissible for a caregiver to refuse to provide care? The tools philosophers use to discuss questions like these can help us all improve our ability to think through difficult issues and to discuss them productively with others. We will proceed by examining a series of controversies in biomedical ethics, using each topic as an opportunity to practice skills of reading, reflection, and discussion.

Phil 3311W: Introduction to Ethical Theories (University of Minnesota)

Most of us believe that it's morally good to help people in serious distress. Most of us believe it's morally bad to spread false gossip about others. Moral theories are attempts to systematize, explain, and justify moral convictions like these. This course will provide an introduction to three important moral theories: utilitarianism, Kantianism, and virtue ethics. We will study and discuss classical and contemporary texts.

Phil 4414: Political Philosophy (University of Minnesota)

This course surveys important papers in post-World-War-II political philosophy. We will use these papers to help us think through a series of long-contested concepts: authority, democracy, justice, rights, liberty, and equality.