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Sarah Buss (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor)

Philosophy Colloquium Series

April 19, 2013 3:30 pm Philosophy Conference Room

"What can personal ideals teach us about rational agency and moral requirements?"


Sarah Buss is interested in exploring the following hunch: once we understand the role that ideals play in our apprehension of reasons for action, we have the resources we need for grappling with a number of distinct questions. These questions include: What is wrong with doing something just because there is a rule that says you ought to do it? What is the relationship between doing something for a reason and acting "under the guise of the good"? Does the best account of moral requirements rule out the possibility of moral dilemmas? What is the relationship between moral reasons and the reasons of prudence? .


Sarah Buss is interested in issues at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics. She is the author of articles on autonomy, moral responsibility, practical rationality, and respect for persons. In her work, she has developed accounts of weakness of will, our moral obligations to the needy, the rationality of our concern for our own happiness, the relationship between intentional action and evaluative commitments, the relevance of childhood deprivation to assignments of blame, the moral importance of etiquette, and the metaphysical significance of illness. Her current projects address the normative significance of formal principles of practical rationality, the nature of reasons for action, the will's contribution to action, the moral significance of ideals, and the moral implications of certain basic human capacities. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University. Before moving to the University of Michigan, she taught at Princeton University and the University of Iowa.