Benjamin Hole, PhD
PhD, Philosophy, University of Washington, 2016
MA, Philosophy, University of Washington, 20010
BA, Philosophy, English, and Classical Studies, with Honors in Philosophy, Lewis and Clark College, 2008
My areas are ethics, ancient philosophy, the philosophy of mind (especially, psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience), and the scholarship of teaching and learning. I fell in love with philosophy carefully reading historical texts, especially Aristotle’s ethics. My identity as a philosopher grew from an appreciation of moral virtue in trying to live a good life. I am also interested in theories of mind and the neurological bases for consciousness, especially empathy and mirror neurons –neurons that fire both when you perform an intentional motor activity, and when you observe someone else performing one. I published an argument that while mirror neurons are awesome, they do not support what has become the dominant, “simulation” theory of mind. In graduate school, I was the Philosophy Department’s Coordinator of Teaching and Learning, and Director of the Philosophy Writing Center, which got me into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. I taught graduate seminars in course design, organized workshops on topics such as implicit bias in the classroom, and developed training and pedagogy for philosophy-specific, non-directive, question-based tutoring. The dissertation I recently finished combines my interests in ancient philosophy, ethics, and mind. I argue that virtuous activity is sufficient for happiness and some minimally favorable circumstances are necessary for that activity. Virtuous activity depends intricately not just on the brain, but also on the body (embodiment), it routinely exploits structures in the natural and social environments (embeddedness), and the boundaries of virtuous activity extend beyond the physical boundaries of the virtuous person (extension). This view satisfies two intuitions from the ancient dispute that might at first seem in tension. Happiness depends on favorable external circumstances (Aristotelian), and virtuous activity guarantees happiness (Stoic). My current work applies my virtue ethics to the complex and unpredictable ways the world is changing, especially in the domains of human enhancement and climate change.
Ethics and Society
Ethics, Medicine and Healthcare
Philosophy of Religion
Introduction to Philosophy
Select Publications, Presentations, and Awards
“Favorable Circumstances, Virtuous Activity, and Happiness,” PhD Dissertation, University of Washington, 2016.
“Mirroring, Mental Simulation and Mind-Reading,” Proceedings of the 24th International Workshop on Qualitative Reasoning (2010): 126-131.
“Transferring the Principles of Metacognition and Alignment to Shorter Learning Environments” Proceedings of the 10th Annual Teaching & Learning Symposium, University of Washington (electronic).
“Greatness of Soul and Virtues of Ignorance,” BA Honors Thesis, Lewis & Clark College, 2008.
“Radical Virtue and ‘Arming the Future’ with Geoengineering,” The 70th Annual Northwest Philosophy Conference, Bellevue College, WA, October 19-20, 2018.
“Is Homosexuality a Contemporary Moral Problem,” Bellevue College, LMC Event Center, Bellevue, WA, June 12, 2018.