Positions

Overview

  • I grew up in South-east Asia in the city-state of Singapore. At the age of 19, I went to Australia to study economics at the University of Melbourne. There I experienced kangaroos, Aussie rules ‘footy’, cricket, pub crawls...and philosophy. I took my first philosophy class, reading Plato’s Republic and Descartes’ Discourse on Method, and I never looked back. I added a philosophy major and when I returned to Singapore, I wrote a Master’s thesis at the local university, then applied to graduate schools to earn a doctorate in philosophy. I ended up in ‘laid back’ California at Stanford University in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area where I spent five wonderful years.


    I have joined UAB after many years of teaching at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point where I became a ‘Cheesehead’ or Packers fan. (In baseball, I still follow the San Francisco Giants. My most memorable year was 2010 when the Giants won the World Series, and the Packers won the SuperBowl!). Stevens Point is typical small-town America, surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms, and typified by ‘Midwest nice’-ness. Now that I have moved to the hospitable South, not only can I claim to have lived and studied on 3 continents, but I have experienced living in three very different parts of the United States. (I never lived in Europe, but I have done the back-packing thing travelling by train with a copy of Let’s Go Europe!)


    UAB is known for medical and health-related studies, and the philosophy department has a tradition in teaching bioethics, and publishing important ethics textbooks. For philosophy majors, the department is able to offer all core areas of philosophy as well as introducing many of the latest topics of philosophical research. I am bringing to UAB new courses in the ethics of war, virtue ethics, and philosophy of action. I will draw on a long professional career and my global experience as I teach classes on these and other subjects in philosophy. I hope students will join me in finding philosophy to be exciting and life-changing.
  • Research Overview

  • I am a moral philosopher doing research on a number of inter-connected questions. The work that I do in normative ethics is to formulate and defend a version of virtue ethics, and to apply the theory to issues in the ethics of war and in medical ethics. In recent times, virtue ethics has enjoyed a resurgence of interest outside of ancient philosophy circles as a rival to utilitarianism and deontological ethics. But there is no consensus among virtue ethicists on a version that can overcome challenges to Aristotle’s account. I have been using my background in the philosophy of action to develop the conceptual foundation in moral psychology for virtue ethics, and I am now working on a neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics that is different from other versions. This project involves examination of what the human good is and how practical wisdom is exercised by virtuous agents in a way that does not depend on the application of rules or the comparison of alternatives in terms of a single value. A central question in virtue ethics that I am interested in concerns what the relation is between human good and happiness.

    Keywords - Ethical Theory, Ethics of War, Medical Ethics, Moral Psychology (particularly, Philosophy of Action, Practical Reasoning)
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University 1993
  • Full Name

  • David Chan