josh may 2017 1

Associate Professor
University Hall 5010
(205) 934-8920

Research and Teaching Interests:  Ethical Theory, Bioethics, Free Will/Moral Responsibility, and Theory of Knowledge

Office Hours: By appointment only


  • BA, CSU Sacramento, Philosophy
  • PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, Philosophy

I grew up and was educated in California, developing a penchant for ethical issues and Mexican food. Before arriving at UAB in 2013, I lived for two years on the other side of the globe, in a land Down Under, where it’s summer in December, there’s universal health care, and the local time is one day ahead of the States. In Australia I taught at Monash University in Melbourne, worked with some outstanding philosophers, and explored the country — from the Great Barrier Reef to the Outback (the real thing, not the steakhouse).

Most of my research tackles questions such as: How do compassion, disgust, and other emotions influence moral judgment? Do we really know right from wrong? Why are moral disagreements so difficult to resolve? Do we have free will? Can we be morally responsible for what we do? What motivates us to do what’s right? My attempts to answer such questions are heavily informed by discoveries in the sciences. Some of my work has even led to collaborative experiments with scientists and philosophers from around the globe.

Philosophy isn’t just for the few in the "ivory tower," so I try to engage the public on philosophical issues through interviews, opinion pieces, blog posts, and more.

  • Neuroethics
  • Bioethics
  • Ethics: Theories of Good & Evil
  • Contemporary Moral Issues
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Outstanding Professor Award, from UAB's EMSAP Class of 2017
  • Article selected as Editor's Choice in the Journal of Medical Ethics
  • Emerging Scholar Prize, Spindel Conference on Empathy & Ethics, University of Memphis
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Prize, American Philosophical Association