Simon D. Feldman
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Joined Connecticut College: 2003
On sabbatical 2014-2015 academic year
B.A., Brown University; Ph.D., Brown University
Philosophy of law
"If we discover that we have contradictory beliefs about how we should live our lives, what should we do about it? Principles of theoretical and practical rationality dictate that we aspire to a state of epistemic and ethical coherence. But is doing so always compatible with living a moral life or living the Good Life, broadly construed? These are some of the questions at the heart of my current work.” - Simon Feldman
Feldman regularly teaches Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy of Law and The Self. Simon has recently developed two new courses, Philosophy of Race and Racism and a First-Year Seminar on The Meaning of Life.
All of these courses explore questions about the relationship between the self and the larger community of persons and inquire into the ways in which our self-understandings and our affinities for others shape and reflect our values.
Feldman is the recipient of the Connecticut College 2010 John S. King Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, established to recognize teacher-scholars with high standards of teaching excellence and concern for students. He delivered the keynote address at the College's 2010 Convocation ceremony on the first day of classes, "Honor Code Ethics 101."
Feldman has recently given papers on the ethics of bad faith and on the status of “Not-In-My-Backyard” (NIMBY) claims in environmental ethics (with Professor Derek Turner). His current research focuses on the psychology of moral contradiction and the ethical and metaphysical implications of different kinds of popular self-help ideologies.
“Consider the following two claims:
(a) If we can “prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing anything of (comparable) moral importance we ought, morally, to do it”. (Peter Singer, Famine, Affluence and Morality)
(b) It’s perfectly fine to spend $10 to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop at the Movieplex.
I am disposed to endorse both of these claims. But I also know that sending $10 to Oxfam instead going to the movies could save a child from a painful death from malaria, thereby preventing something very bad from happening. I find this thought deeply morally unsettling. I seem to have inconsistent moral beliefs. When I focus on (a), it seems clear that justice is on its side and I worry that my endorsement of (b) may be in bad faith and that my acting on it may be weak willed. But (b) seems like moral common sense as well.”