John Robison

John Robison

Lecturer, Philosophy


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2019
  • B.A., Philosophy and Music, University of Rochester, 2009

About John Robison

I work in moral philosophy and epistemology, and I am especially interested in questions at their intersection. Much of my research focuses on how our values can shape (often unreflectively and in ways of which we are unaware) how we access and process information. I suggest that an empirically informed understanding of how this shaping works is crucial for understanding interpersonally significant phenomena involving the expression of an agent’s values, such as moral and epistemic responsibility, respect, and friendship. My work appears or is forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, and Ergo on topics such as exculpatory moral ignorance, awareness or consciousness conditions on moral responsibility, responsibility for mental states, and respect as a proper responsiveness to persons. My current and future research builds on these projects and addresses connected questions about trust, friendship, blaming and excusing, the ethics and epistemology of testimony, and the epistemology and value of self-conception.

In addition to my interests in moral philosophy and epistemology, I have a significant side-interest in the history of early modern philosophy, especially in defenses of and responses to skeptical arguments. I am interested in what have been taken to be adequate ways of answering to the skeptic, and I am also interested in how philosophers have deployed skeptical arguments toward social/political ends (as happens, arguably, in Marie de Gournay’s The Equality of Men and Women).

At IU, undergraduate courses I have taught or am teaching include: Introduction to Ethics, Biomedical Ethics, Ethics and Responsible Management, and Honors Thesis supervision (topic: Ethics Without Free Will).

Selected publications

Moral Worth and Consciousness: In Defense of a Value-Secured Reliability Theory.Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.

When and Why is it Disrespectful to Excuse an Attitude?.Philosophical Studies 176 (9): 2391-2409. 2019.

Skepticism about Skepticism about Moral Responsibility.Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (3): 555-577. 2018.