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Josh May

Professor of Philosophy (primary)
Professor of Psychology (secondary)
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University Hall 5010
(205) 934-4805

Pronouns: he/him

Research and Teaching Interests: Bioethics, Neuroethics, Free Will, Philosophy of Science

Office Hours: By appointment


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

I grew up and went to college in California, where I developed 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 and explored as much of the country as I could squeeze in — from the Great Barrier Reef to the Outback (the real thing, not the steakhouse).

My research draws on scientific evidence to better understand moral controversies and social change. Why are moral disagreements so difficult to resolve? How can we make moral progress on issues like factory farming, climate change, addiction, and mental illness? Does neuroscience show that free will is an illusion or that we shouldn’t trust our gut feelings in ethics and politics? To answer such questions, I draw heavily on findings in cognitive science, some of which I’ve tried to generate myself or in collaboration with other scientists.

Although my PhD is in philosophy, I’ve also trained in the social and behavioral sciences. In addition to a Summer Seminar in Neuroscience and Philosophy at Duke University, I’ve spent a few years on a fellowship completing the coursework for the PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience at UAB while participating in the Cognition, Brain, and Autism lab at UA.

When not reading, writing, or teaching, I like to get away from the computer and climb rocks, play guitar, hike in the forest, look at birds, cook mostly vegetarian food, or spend time with my wonderful daughter.

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