I’m August Gorman, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ethics Lab at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. In Summer 2018 I received my PhD in Philosophy from USC.
I'm interested in creative approaches to philosophy pedagogy. In Spring 2019 I’ll be teaching Data Ethics at Georgetown, a course that will involve students in interactive activities and publically-engaged projects pertaining to the ethical foundations of digital privacy. I also am the philosopher in charge of Georgetown’s Engaging Ethics Faculty Partner Program.
My research explores the role that an agent’s relationship to her own motivations plays in normative domains. Several of my projects stem from thinking about atypical agents who face conditions that in different ways impair the normal relationship an agent has to her motivations. I use evidence from the phenomenology of mental disability to challenge existing models of agency, and to inform the development of accounts of moral responsibility, well-being, and meaningfulness in life.
In my dissertation I argued for an original account of moral responsibility: the Minimal Approval view. I argue that, in contrast to traditional Deep Self views, in order for an agent to be an apt target of blame on the basis of her behavior, the chain of mental events that leads her to action can involve any mental states, just so long as they sufficiently dispose her to minimally approve of acting on the motivation she in fact does. To minimally approve is to be such that, if you were to consider your first-order desires to act, you would desire to some degree for your effective desire to be satisfied for some further aim than merely to get rid of it. I engage with the empirical literature on various psychological conditions to show how this view is uniquely well-suited to separate ordinary spontaneous, weak-willed, and emotional action for which agents are responsible from pathologically compulsive action for which they are not.