Curriculum vita

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Susan A. Stark


7 Andrews Rd.
307 Hedge Hall

Bates College

Lewiston, ME. 04240


Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Bates College,

1999-present. I shared the position with my spouse, Frank Chessa, from Winter 2001 through Spring, 2005.

Visiting Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Davis, 1998-1999.

Georgetown University

Ph.D., Philosophy, May 1999.

Dissertation: “Morality and Emotion”

M.A., Philosophy, 1994.

Brown University

B.A., Biomedical Ethics, with Honors, 1991.

Thesis: “Autonomy vs. Beneficence: Whose Concerns Override in a Pregnancy Complicated by Placenta Previa?”


Ethics, Moral Psychology, Feminist Ethics.


Ancient Greek Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy of Psychology, Social Philosophy.


“Ordinary Virtue,” Res Philosophica, forthcoming, October, 2015. Invited paper for volume on virtue and emotions.
“Implicit Virtue.” Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, September, 2013.
“Virtue and the Value of Affective Transformation,” Sex, Love, and Friendship: Studies of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love 1993 – 2003, Value Inquiry Book Series, Volume II, Rodopi Press, 2011.

“Emotions and the Ontology of Moral Value,” The Journal of Value Inquiry, 2004.

“Taking Responsibility for Oppression: Affirmative Action and Racial Injustice,” Public Affairs Quarterly, July 2004.

“A Change of Heart: Moral Emotions, transformation and moral virtue,” Journal of Moral Philosophy, April 2004.
“Virtue and Emotion,” Nous, September 2001.

“Review of Jaegwon Kim’s Mind in a Physical World,” co-authored with Frank Chessa, Metapsychology Website, May, 2001.

Ordinary Virtue
“A (modest) Defense of Homebirth”


“A (modest) Defense of Homebirth,” American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, San Diego, CA, October 2014.

“Implicit Associations and the Practice of Medicine,” Presentation to Tufts University Medical Students, May, 2014.
“Ordinary Virtue,” Pacific Division of the APA, San Diego, CA, April, 2014.
“The Practice of Virtue,” Internal Medicine Grand Rounds, Maine Medical Center, November, 2013.
Commentator for “Bioethics and Film” series for medical students, Maine Medical Center, April, 2013.
“Ordinary Virtue,” University of Maine, Orono, Colloquium, November, 2012.
“On the Value of the Liberal Arts: the liberal arts will make you rich,” Bates College, September 2012.
“The Ethics of Care,” Maine Medical Center, Ethics Committee Retreat, September, 2011.
“White Privilege and Shame,” Northern New England Philosophy Association, Bates College, October 2006.
“Commentary on Troy Jollimore’s “Second-Order Desert and the Problem of Moral Luck,” Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, March 2004.
“A Change of Heart: Moral Emotions, transformation and moral virtue,” invited presentation at the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, December 2003.
“A Change of Heart: Moral emotions, transformation, and moral virtue,” Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, March, 2003.
“Emotions and Virtue,” talk given at the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship Retreat, October 2002.
“Emotions and Moral Motivation,” Brown Bag Lunch, Bates College, November, 2001.
“Sympathy and Moral Worth,” colloquium paper, Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference, July 2001; earlier version presented as a colloquium paper, Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, April, 2000; invited paper, University of Southern Maine Colloquium, April, 2000.

“Virtue and Emotion,” Maine Philosophical Institute meeting, Bowdoin College, April, 2000; invited paper, University of California, Davis Colloquium, December 1998.

“Breasts, Bodies, and Norms,” invited paper, Dowling College, March, 2000; colloquium paper, Far West Popular and American Culture Association, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, February, 2000; invited paper, Nammour Symposium, California State University, Sacramento, April 1999.
“Why Equal Protection Requires Exclusionary Practices,” invited paper, UNLV, Feb., 2000.


Enhanced Sabbatical, Bates College, 2010-2011.

Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, 2002-2003.

Dissertation Fellowship Award, Philosophy Department, Georgetown University, 1995-1996.

Mensa Education and Research Foundation Scholarship, 1994-1995.

Philosophy Department Teaching and Research Fellowship, 1991-1994.

Fellow, Georgetown University, Writing Fellows Program, 1992.

Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholarship, 1987-1991.


Participant, “The Art of Teaching Philosophy,” Amherst College, June 2014.

Member, Writers Group, participating faculty from Bates, Bowdoin, and UNH.

Reviewed Tenure applications for junior faculty in philosophy at Washington State University and Connecticut College, 2012.

Participant: Faculty Learning Community, a year-long seminar on diversity, inclusion and education, 2011-2012.

Participant, Mellon Innovation Fund Lecture Series, 2008-2010.

Anonymous Reviewer for Hypatia, Mind, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Res Philosophica, Journal of Moral Philosophy.

Session chair and organizer, Northern New England Philosophy Association Meeting, Bates College, October, 2006.

Chair of a Colloquium Session, Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association Meeting, March 2006.

Organized the Maine Philosophical Institute Meeting at Bates College, May 2001.

Member, Ethics and Political Philosophy Reading Group, participating faculty from Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, and USM, 1999-2005.

Member, American Philosophical Association.

Member, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.


Courses Taught

Seminars: Moral Realism, Virtue Ethics, Moral Rules and/or Particulars.

200-level courses: Ancient Greek Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Moral Luck, Philosophy and Feminism, Philosophy of Psychology, Introduction to Philosophy, Contemporary Moral Disputes.

FYS: Luck and the Moral Life, Feminist Ethics

Short Terms: Moral Luck, Philosophy of Psychology, Concepts of Self, Ethics of Care.

Co-chair, Committee on Faculty Governance, 2014-2015.

Members, NEASC interim report, Faculty Standard and Governance Standard, 2014-2015.

Member, Internal Review Committee for History Department Review, Fall 2013.

Member, Philosophy search committee for Mellon Post-Doc, 2013.

Member, selection committee for the Student Commencement Speaker, 2013, 2014.

Member, Committee on Faculty Governance, 2011-present.

Member, Professional Writing Tutor Search committee, Spring, 2010.

Facilitator, Organizer, two day Faculty workshop on first year writing and assessment, June 2010.

Chair, First Year Seminar and Writing Committee, 2008-2010.

Member, Director of Writing Search Committee, 2008-2009.

Member, Philosophy Department Search Committee, 2008-2009.

Facilitator, two day Faculty workshop on first year writing and assessment of writing, June, 2009.

Member of planning committee for the two day Faculty workshop on first year writing and assessment of writing (along with Judy Head, Joanne Cole, Pat Hager, and Ellen Peters), 2008-2009.

Member, Davis Foundation Grant Application Committee, Spring and Summer 2007.

Member, Peer Writing Tutor Program Oversight Committee, 2007-2008.

Member, Registrar Search Committee, 2006-2008.

Member, Bates General Education Implementation Committee, 2006-2010.

Co-Chair First Year Seminar and Writing Committee, 2006-2008.

Member, Medical Studies Committee, Bates College 2005-2007.

Member, Teaching Development Committee, Bates College, 2004.

Member, Philosophy Department search committee, Bates College 2002-2003.

Member, Cognitive Psychology Search Committee, Bates College 2001-2002

Member, Committee on the Writing Workshop and First Year Seminars, Bates College, 2001-2002

Member, Committee on Academic Standing, Bates College, 2000 – 2002.

Member, Chaplain’s Advisory Committee, Bates College, 2000 – 2002, 2003-2004.

Member, Committee on Eating Concerns, Bates College, 2000 – 2001.


Secretary, Board of Trustees, Merriconeag Waldorf School, Freeport, Maine, 2014 – present.

Volunteer teacher at Merriconeag Waldorf High School, New Gloucester, Maine.

Taught a fall term elective, “Ethics,” to 12 high school students. Fall, 2012.

Taught “Introduction to Speech and Debate,” to middle school students, Spring, 2014 and Fall 2014.

Volunteer at Children’s tennis league. Summer, 2011- 2014.

Volunteer at Merriconeag Waldorf School, Freeport, Maine. Class Parent, Assist with festivals, development and fundraising, including the annual tuition assistance auction, 2009-present.

Volunteer for Ballard House, Maine’s only freestanding birth center. Do mailings, lead tour and information night, help coordinate mother’s lunch, 2002-2004.
Volunteer available to the Maine Humanities Council to lead a discussion on the events of 9/11, October, 2001.
“An Introduction to Philosophical Thinking,” a lecture given with Frank Chessa to high school students, Pine Bush High School, Pine Bush, New York, November 2001.

“The Problem of Moral Luck,” a lecture given with Frank Chessa to high school students, Highland High School, New Paltz, New York, November 2000.


University of California, Davis:

Graduate Seminar: Partial Morality

Undergraduate Courses: Ethical Theories, Problems of Normative Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy, History of Ethics, Ethical and Social Problems in Contemporary Society.

Georgetown University (with full responsibility for course design, content, lectures, and grading):

Undergraduate Courses: Luck and the Moral Life, Introduction to Logic, Ethics and Public Policy, Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy.

Medical School: Bioethics (Georgetown College of Medicine)

Non-credit adult education courses: Feminist Philosophy, Bioethics

Research Assistant to Margaret Little, Ph.D., Georgetown University: Feminist Bioethics, 1995.

Research Assistant to F. Barbara Orlans, Ph.D. and Tom L. Beauchamp, Ph.D., The Human Use of Animals: Case Studies in Ethical Choice, 1995.

Teaching Assistant, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University: Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, and Introduction to Biomedical Ethics, 1991-1994, 1996.

Research Assistant, Encyclopedia of Bioethics, second edition, 1994.

Research Assistant to John Hasnas, Ph.D., Georgetown University: The Nature of Rights, 1991-1992.

Teaching Assistant, Brown University, Persuasion and Argument in Writing, 1991.

Teaching and Research Assistant, Brown University: Topics in Biomedical Ethics, 1991.

Tennis Instructor 1985-1993.


Margaret Little, Ph.D. (Dissertation Director)

Associate Professor

Department of Philosophy

Georgetown University

Tel: 202 687 2312

Nancy Sherman, Ph.D. (Dissertation Reader)


Department of Philosophy

Georgetown University

Tel: 202 687 7487
Madison Powers, J.D., Ph.D. (Dissertation Reader)

Associate Professor

Department of Philosophy

Georgetown University

Tel: 202 687 6821

Alisa Carse, Ph.D., (Teaching Mentor)

Associate Professor

Department of Philosophy

Georgetown University

Tel: 202 687 4521

Wayne A. Davis, Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chair

Department of Philosophy

Georgetown University

Tel: 202 687 7487
Jeffrey C. King, Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chair

Department of Philosophy

University of California, Davis

Tel: 530 752 8987

David Cummiskey, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy

Department of Philosophy and Religion

Bates College

Tel: 207 786 6286

Implicit Virtue,” (Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, Summer 2013): Many hold that we can be morally assessed only for actions and psychological states that are under our control. Recently, however, some researchers have noted that some actions appear to be influenced in part by psychological states that are not explicit, but instead are implicit, unconscious states. These states, known as implicit associations, are states of which we are unaware and over which we do not exercise any direct control, though these states nonetheless seem to influence actions. But if actions are influenced by implicit associations which are not under our control, how can we rightly be said to exert control over these actions enabling us to morally assess them? Individuals do not choose these associations, they are not aware of them, and so it would seem that they are not under their control. Many would conclude that individuals cannot be morally assessed for actions that are influenced by implicit associations. I argue, by contrast, that it is possible for individuals to hold themselves accountable for implicit associations. One moral tradition, virtue theory, holds that individuals can be morally assessed for states that are not fully under their control. Aristotle and some virtue theorists argue that individuals can be morally assessed for their emotions, states that are not under their immediate control. I argue that this argument can serve as a model for implicit associations; as a result, I argue that individuals can be morally assessed for actions that are influenced by implicit associations.
Virtue and the Value of Affective Transformation,” (Sex, Love and Friendship, 2011): Despite the philosophical convergence around the importance of moral emotions, the precise details of how, when, and to what extent emotions matter to morality has remained contentious. Aristotelians claim that moral virtue is constituted both by correct action and by correct emotion. Feeling emotions properly is necessary to virtue. But Kantians require solely that an agent do a morally correct action from the motive of respect for the moral law. There is a crucial philosophical disagreement between the Aristotelian and Kantian moral outlooks: namely, is feeling the correct emotions necessary to moral virtue (or moral worth) or is it merely an optional extra that is permitted but not required. I believe that there are good philosophical reasons for siding with the Aristotelians. I argue that a kind of transformation is necessary to the highest level of moral goodness, or, what I henceforth call, moral virtue. This transformation includes a transformation of the moral agent’s beliefs. But while cognitive transformation is necessary to virtue, affective transformation is necessary as well.
Emotions and the Ontology of Moral Value,” (Journal of Value Inquiry, 2004): This paper aims to show the inadequacy of many of the prominent arguments for the role of the emotions in moral theory. I take on the Kantian argument concerning the role of emotions in morality and then consider four arguments broadly inspired by Aristotle: the eudaimonistic argument (that emotions are valuable components of a flourishing life), the instrumental argument (that emotions are valuable instruments to achieving some other good like accurate moral judgment or reliable moral motivation), the action-centered argument (that emotions are necessary components of fully correct action), and the view that emotions are essential to virtue, where emotions are understood as abstractions (loving the good and hating the bad). After revealing difficulties in each of these five views, I argue that emotions are important to morality because they bind us to the concrete good and ill of people, animals, communities, and things. Emotions, felt toward particular people in concrete circumstances, constitute our moral concern, our interest in and concern for morality, for its own sake. An agent who fails to feel emotions will have no location for moral concern in the many common cases in which no actions are morally required. Emotions, I argue, directed at particular people, animals, communities, and things constitute the ontological basis of our values.

Taking Responsibility for Oppression: Affirmative Action and Racial Injustice,” (Public Affairs Quarterly, 2004): This paper takes as its focus the public policy issue of affirmative action in a society in which white culture is dominant. The Supreme Court recently handed down a controversial ruling on affirmative action, when it was asked to rule on the legality of the University of Michigan’s admissions policies. Ironically, both the defendants and the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case claimed victory. The plaintiffs claimed to have won because the University of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions policy was deemed unconstitutional because the admissions office assigned points to applicants from underrepresented minorities to assist them in gaining admission. The defendants claimed victory because the University’s Law School policy was decided to be constitutionally acceptable. This admissions policy considers the applicant’s race, along with all the other aspects of the applicant’s background, such as writing skills, in the University’s effort to have a diverse student body. I argue that this decision does more harm than good to affirmative action policies because it pushes further underground the notion that it is acceptable to consider an applicant’s race, or gender, or sexual orientation, etc., all by itself, as a decisive factor in making an admissions decision. Of course, to argue that race or gender or sexual orientation ought to be a factor introduces another important consideration: namely that it seems paradoxical to allow race or gender or sexual orientation to be a factor in order to promote equality. Using race or gender or sexual orientation as a factor seems in many ways to undermine rather than promote equality. This is because it seems unfair to white applicants or men or straight people who have done nothing to deserve the harm of being denied admission. In response to this, I argue that we must reform our notion of responsibility to include a role for moral luck. I argue that any adequate moral theory ought to include a notion of responsibility on which people can be held accountable for events (largely) beyond their control.

A Change of Heart: Moral Emotions, Transformation, and Moral Virtue,” (Journal of Moral Philosophy, 2004): This paper, along with “Virtue and the Value of Affective Transformation,” takes the faithful Kantian as its foil and aims to show the inadequacy of many of the contemporary Kantian attempts to accommodate the emotions in moral theory. These Kantian attempts at accommodation, I argue, make some gains, but ultimately sacrifice important elements of the emotions in their deference to moral duty. I then argue, with Aristotelians, that affective transformation is a necessary part of moral virtue. Specifically, I argue that an unsympathetic benefactor (someone who does good but fails to feel the requisite emotions) fails to respond appropriately to all of the moral features that are present. Furthermore, I argue that such an agent cannot even fully understand the nature of virtue. Without an affective transformation, even a cognitive grasp of a moral situation is incomplete.
Virtue and Emotion,” (Nous, 2001): Here I argue that some virtue theorists have not been sufficiently attentive to the way emotions function in virtue. Because of this, they have developed counter-intuitive and inaccurate accounts of what virtue is, arguing with Socrates, that a fully virtuous person is fully immune to harm. But I argue that a more intuitive view of virtue (and of the possibility of harm in virtue) can be gained by emphasizing the emotions of the virtuous person. Emotions are crucial to virtue in that they embody the virtuous person’s perception of the full complexity of moral situations – for example, that a situation of battle is a threat to life and limb, yet it is nonetheless courageous to proceed. On my view, the courageous person recognizes the possibility of harm in battle through feeling the emotion fear, even though she nonetheless proceeds courageously into battle. Courage, then, sometimes involves feeling fear. The virtuous person can thus be motivationally unified as she proceeds with the required action but in her emotions she can be mixed: courage can involve feeling both confidence and fear. This blocks the counter-intuitive view that the virtuous person must believe that in being courageous she cannot be harmed.

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