Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Mark van Roojen

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by Brooke Adam March 4, 2019

Dr. van Roojen—professor, Department of Philosophy

What is your area of specialization?
Ethics, Metaethics, Political Philosophy

Why Philosophy?
Philosophy lets people work across a wide variety of areas of interest as well as to engage with work in areas that are not these days considered part of philosophy proper (for example, psychology, biology, evolutionary theory, etc.). So I think it gives me more flexibility to pursue my interests as they change over time than many other fields of research would.

What is your favorite course to teach?

It varies from term to term. I have been surprised to enjoy teaching the large intro-level philosophy and current issues classes because I did not expect to like teaching such large classes where back and forth discussion is more difficult. But I've gotten pretty happy with the class as a way of helping students learn to understand and defend views about controversial topics over the course of a semester. At the same time it is more fun to teach smaller classes where one gets to know individual students better than one gets to in a larger class.  So for example my 300-level ethics class tends to be fun in this way.

What are you currently researching?
I'm writing a book defending moral rationalism - roughly the view that moral requirements are among the requirements supported by the balance of reason to act.  Part of working out the view is defending a conception of the relation between reasons to act and motivation. I'm also working on various papers in the broad area of metaethics.

What professional organizations are you affiliated with?
American Philosophical Association (Central Division Representative to the Board of Officers), Australasian Association of Philosophers, Overseas Associate of the British Society for Ethical Theory.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I do a good bit of woodworking and metalworking, including guitar repair, old house restoration and building a timberframe cabin in the mountains of Wyoming.

Having an off-grid cabin has led to yet further projects and to snowshoeing and cross country skiing to reach the cabin in winter. I also fly fish. And in connection with that interest I have been active in cold water fisheries conservation with Trout Unlimited. Right now we are working on a large grant-funded project to create fish habitat and replenish wetlands near Scottsbluff. Closer to Lincoln I enjoy walks at Spring Creek Prairie near Denton.

Read more about Dr. van Roojen