Prof Michelle N Mason
My main philosophical interests intersect value theory and the philosophy of mind and action.
I am currently completing research in moral psychology that investigates and defends a quartet of attitudes -- contempt, shame, love, and pride -- as related reactive attitudes that are indispensable if we are to regard ourselves and others as responsible for approximating certain normative ideals. Against interpretations of the reactive attitudes that ascribe to them a predominantly deontic, imperative shape, I offer an account that accommodates this quartet as what I dub aretaic, appellative attitudes. Some of my preliminary work in this area has been published as articles and book chapters and I am currently at work on a monograph on the topic, tentatively titled Valuing Persons, under contract with Oxford University Press. A related edited volume, The Moral Psychology of Contempt is forthcoming in Rowman & Littlefield's Moral Psychology of the Emotions series.
My second book-length research project is in normative ethical theory and pursues a virtue-theoretic approach to contemporary debate about the practical rationality of moral action. Defending a developmental account of the human good, and bringing my practical experience as a child welfare advocate to bear, I defend a novel account of the connection between living a life of virtue and living a life that is good for whoever lives it.
A third project, The Interpreter of Guantanamo: A Case Study in Empathy, and its Failures, harnesses my academic interest in moral psychology to a long abandoned start in journalism. Currently in the interviewing stages, I am pursuing a biographical case study to explore the place of empathy, and its limits, in the ongoing tragedy of Guantanamo.
Someday, finally, I hope to return to my early interest in aesthetics, particularly an interest in exploring how aesthetic and moral values may conflict and -- when they do -- how that conflict might inform current thinking about the purportedly overriding character of moral reasons.