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Job Market Candidates

Sabrina Aggleton

Research Interestes: 20th Century Continental Philosophy, Feminism, Ethics and Sexual Violence
Teaching Interests: Feminist Philosophy, Phenomenology, Ethics, History of Philosophy

My research falls within the areas of phenomenology, embodiment, gender studies, and sexual violence. Primarily I use the resources of contemporary Euro-American feminist philosophy and 20th Century French philosophy. I am currently investigating the commonplace overrepresentation of women’s vulnerability to sexual violence through a critique of our current understanding of vulnerability. More specifically, I argue that this understanding remains entrenched in a neoliberal conception of risk management that perpetuates ontologically erroneous and ethically objectionable beliefs about vulnerability to sexual violence. In the neoliberal regime of thought, women’s burdens for prevention produce subjects who are shaped by the daily obligation to take preventative measures. While I critically examine the mechanisms that homogenize and exaggerate women’s vulnerability, I consider whether risk reduction and other ‘practical’ prevention efforts successfully dissolve or rather reinscribe prevailing misconceptions of vulnerability.


Joseph Barker

I am currently teaching Social and Political Philosophy at the 400 level and Medical and Healthcare Ethics, also at the 400 level. I have previously taught courses in 19th century philosophy, Existentialism and ethics.

My research focuses on the different ways the tension between embodied difference and its conceptual representation is resolved by phenomenology and by the French post-structuralists. One way I address this problem is by looking at the way Heidegger criticizes Nietzsche's response to it and comparing that to Deleuze's positive use of Nietzsche to resolve problems he sees in Heidegger's account. I conclude that Deleuze is paradigmatic of his generation of philosophers in the way he takes up very specific aspects of Nietzsche, rejecting those that tie him to Kantian and Hegelian themes and instead focusing on themes that resolve certain philosophical problems raised by phenomenology. Those new themes are those of affect and the dissimulating power of truth, which form a Nietzschean commonality shared by Derrida and Foucault. I show how Deleuze and his Nietzscheanism has been misread as a materialist post-humanism, whereas in fact he shares a concern with establishing a new ethics of the human that is shared with other French philosophers of his generation. Beyond the dissertation, I am working on and article on the relationship between seeing and saying, and I will ask how, in Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Derrida, does meaningful language relate to the embodied world in which it arises? A further article asks about the social and political ramifications of the different relationships language can have to the world and the ethical responsibilities arising from them, again contrasting Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty to Deleuze and Derrida.


Alex Feldman

Dissertation: "Foucault and the Problems of History: A Critique of the Concept of Historicization"

Alex Feldman completed his Ph.D. in philosophy at Penn State in the spring of 2017 and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University. His specializations include 19th and 20th century continental philosophy and social and political philosophy; competencies include philosophy of race. Elaborating on the themes developed in his dissertation, Foucault and the Problems of History: A Critique of the Concept of Historicization, his current research focuses on the structure and norms of historical modes of self-understanding, especially as they relate to systems and practices of domination. He is also using this work as a springboard for a project on the theme of “Race and History” in Francophone philosophy. In the past, he has taught social and political philosophy, existentialism, bioethics, and introductory philosophy with an historical approach, and he is currently teaching a seminar on the problem of evil as transformed by the experiences of genocide, decolonization, and apartheid.


Sam Gault

Research Interests: Early Modern Philosophy (esp. Rationalism); 20th Century Continental Philosophy (esp. Phenomenology)
Teaching Interests: Ethics; Sociopolitical Theory; Early Modern Philosophy; 19th and 20th Century Continental Philosophy
Dissertation: “Dialectic of Institution: Merleau-Ponty’s Overcoming of the Modern Rupture Between Freedom and Necessity”

My dissertation proposes an original reading of Merleau-Ponty’s ontology of la chair (“flesh”), oriented toward his reconceiving of “freedom” and “necessity” as two dimensions of a single process of being, and driven by a close reading of his transformative deployment of the onto-phenomenological concept of Stiftung (“institution” or “instituting”). I approach Merleau-Ponty’s thought obliquely, taking as my starting point Descartes’s thought in particular, and, in general, the modern tendency to conceive notions of “free choice,” on the one hand, and causal or logical “necessity,” on the other, in an antinomous relation (i.e., a relation wherein two contradictory terms lay equal claims to affirmation); traditionally, “free choice” serves as the ground for “subjective” or “lived” meaning, whereas “necessity” serves as the ground for “objective” truth. Because this modern iteration of the freedom-necessity antinomy is co-originary, in Descartes’s writings, with the antinomies of “mind-body” and “self-others,” I therefore turn to Merleau-Ponty’s account of the co-genesis of the latter terms in the world of living perception. I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s taking up of the concept of “institution” amounts to an ontologization of genetic Husserlian phenomenology distinct from, although in dialogue with, Heidegger’s effort to recover the question of the being of beings. By tracing this concept’s development over the course of his writings, I simultaneously follow the passage of his thought beyond the freedom-necessity dichotomy in and through his articulation of the “flesh” of beings: the ontological processes of intertwining-individuation whereby sensible and sentient beings accomplish, in a single movement, their own co-advent, and the advent of sense. Finally, drawing on this conception of flesh as interwoven processes of institution, I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s outline of a new ontology is also the outline of a general style of ethical comportment: an articulation of the intertwining of the descriptive and the normative.

Dissertation Advisor: Leonard Lawlor

William M. Paris

Teaching Interests: Existentialism and European Philosophy, African-American and Africana Philosophy, Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, and Black Feminism
Dissertation: “The Value of Invention: On the Ungendering of Black Life in Frantz Fanon, Sylvia Wynter, and Hortense Spillers”

Dissertation Description: My aim in “The Value of Invention” will be to develop a more complex understanding of “Black Life” and the problem of value through the historical events of European colonialism and Transatlantic slavery. No longer can we be content with conceptualizing the lives of Black women and men, in the past and present, as mere shadows, photo negativities, or analogies to our inherited Euro-U.S. understandings of identity. Black thought—as articulated by Fanon, Wynter, and Spillers—reveals enslavement and colonialism constructed, at best, an uneasy relationship between Black life and the privileges of gender as a fact of humanity and, at worst, made that relationship impossible. It was in this way that violence against the Black body could be interpreted as the imposition of false, inhuman values. This recurrent historical violence forced many Black people to search for the possibility of inventing new values that would alter their socio-political realities. Apprehending the proximity of crisis and invention in the thought of Fanon, Wynter, and Spillers would demand nothing less than new evaluative paradigms for “Black Life” within the discourses of race, gender, sexuality, and class. These three thinkers of value and invention allow us to construct a different model of reason and confront anew the challenge of a politics of freedom.


Francesco Poggiani

Research and Teaching interests: ethics, history of modern philosophy, 20th Century philosophy, political philosophy, bioethics, philosophy of religion.

I have taught a great variety of philosophy courses (13 different preps total), including Introduction to Ethics, 20th Century philosophy, Medical and Health Care Ethics (400 level), and socio-political philosophy. I strive to design courses that are broad in their scope, pluralistic in their sources, and focused in their lines of inquiry.

I work primarily in ethics and late 19th/20th Century philosophy. My research centers on topics at the interface of moral psychology, epistemology and philosophy of action, with an emphasis on questions about agency, practical reason, affect, self-control, identity, well-being, and mortality. I regard the history of philosophy as an irreplaceable reservoir of insights containing the resources to shape debates on these and similar topics. In this spirit, my dissertation focused on articulating a Peircean contribution to the ongoing debate about the relationship between motives and reasons and, in particular, between an agent’s practical self-conception and the validity (or lack thereof) of her normative claims.

My current research addresses practical conflicts among affective attitudes, the relationship between freedom of the will and self-control, the interplay between the active and passive dimensions of doxastic as well as practical deliberation, and the philosophical relevance of experiences of dissatisfaction. My book project focuses on the widely employed, but considerably underdetermined notion of “commitment” and its role within a historically informed theory of rational agency. In the fields of bioethics and political philosophy, I am interested in the question concerning the legal and moral status of those creatures who seem incapable to act or “commit” themselves in relevant ways, so as to count as rational agents.