Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Toledo

Faculty & Staff

Susan Purviance
Personal Web Page

Selected Publications

  • “Ethical Externalism and the Moral Sense”, Journal of Philosophical Research (forthcoming December 2001).
  • “The Facticity of Kant’s Fact of Reason”, Manuscrito xx:2 (1998).
  • “The Apriority of Moral Feeling”, Idealistic Studies 22:1/2 (1999).
  • “What Makes Utility the Moral Quality of Actions?” History of Philosophy Quarterly 11:2 (1994). 
  • “Distributive Justice in Kidney Transplantation Policy”, Business and Professional Ethics Journal 12: 2 (1993).
Faculty Bio

I am Susan Purviance, and I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toledo.  I received my Ph.D. degree in 1987 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I studied with specialists in Ancient Philosophy (Charlotte Stough), Modern Philosophy (Hubert Schwyzer, Noel Fleming, and Francis Dauer), and Kant (Hubert Schwyzer and Christine Korsgaard). You can find some of my published work in Idealistic Studies, Hume Studies, History of Philosophy Quarterly, Manuscrito, Ethics and Behavior, Journal of Value Inquiry, Eighteenth Century Life, Business and Professional Ethics Journal, Journal of Medical Humanities, Encyclopedia of Ethics, and Southwest Philosophy Review.

Teaching style:

I use a combination of asking particular students to volunteer to start the discussion for us, and lecture style.  I tell students what my own views are, but not right away.  I expect students to bring the philosophical texts to class.  Sometimes we work paragraph by paragraph on the arguments.  I use collaborative learning techniques such as group discussion labs directed to a set of questions, which the group works to answer or to articulate individual opinions, in addition to individual take-home essays and research papers.  I am pretty serious, but not sombre, in the classroom.  I like to find out what a student’s strengths are in terms of knowledge and interests they already have, and find ways to let them use that knowledge in papers for my courses.  I like to help students explore the philosophical foundations of their own and other students’ religious beliefs as part of their education.  I am a fairly easy grader (just ask anyone!).

Mycurrent areas of research and teaching are:

Ethics (especially the History of Ethics, Contemporary Ethical Theory, and Medical and Professional Ethics) and Modern Philosophy (Western Philosophy of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries).  I offer a multicultural Introduction to Philosophy course, since I want to expose students to philosophies of China, Japan, and the Indian Subcontinent.  My conception of ethical theory encompasses feminist theories, Care ethics, and contemporary European and Anglo-American philosophical perspectives, and it will probably continue to expand. 

Some of the questions that I work on:

  • What is involved our making a good, or correct, moral judgment? What influence does  the standpoint of the observer have on his or her ability to render a good judgment? 
  • What contributions do reason and feeling make to our moral judgments?
  • Are moral judgments supported by facts, and if so, what sorts of facts?
  • What questions in philosophy of mind and ethics are raised by moral agency?  What role  does self-knowledge play in moral agency? 
  • What does it mean to have a good or bad moral character, and how do we determine the moral  character of a person?
  • What is the connection between moral knowledge and moral motivation?  
  • What technological, medical, and economic and political changes are giving rise to new  ethical problems, both nationally and internationally?

Recently I have worked out some views concerning moral motivation, generalism and particularism as accounts of moral judgment, problems of self awareness and self knowledge in Hume and Kant, and questions of free will and moral responsibility.  I have supervised Master's theses on the utility of Machiavelli’s thought, the relationship of happiness to liberty and freedom of speech, and on a physician's duty to disclose his or her own HIV status to patients.

I am also undergraduate adviser for the philosophy department. If you are a philosophy major or interested in knowing more about the BA program, please contact me or stop by to discuss your academic program and career goals. You can also talk with your current philosophy instructor.



Last Updated: 8/8/17