Dr. Shaw received his B.A. in philosophy from Bard College, an M.A. in humanities from University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Indiana University, Bloomington. He joined the faculty of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, in 2004.
"It is difficult for me to succinctly summarize my research and teaching interests. I think of myself as a generalist with wide-ranging, eclectic interests that span both of the major philosophical traditions, both so-called “continental” and so-called “analytic” philosophy. The common theme in my publications, however, has been ethical responsibility, and I see myself as being primarily an ethicist. Much of my research so far has been in the area of twentieth-century European philosophy, particularly Emmanuel Levinas’s ideas about ethical responsibility. I sought to clarify and to defend his ethics of “unlimited care” in my book, Emmanuel Levinas on the Priority of Ethics: Putting Ethics First. I also have written about how his experience of the Holocaust shaped his ideas about suffering and responsibility. I also do research in the analytic tradition. I have published or presented papers on a variety of topics in philosophy of art and in ethics. Some of these topics include the ethics of joke-telling, whether video games can be art, and the significance of feminist philosophy of art."
Dr. Shaw's current research focuses on ethical puzzles raised by family relationships. Some of the topics that interest him include the debate over same-sex marriage, whether children “owe” their parents anything once they become adults, ethical dilemmas raised by assisted reproductive technology, and whether parents should be held legally responsible for crimes committed by their children. His teaching at Behrend has tended to focus on ethics.
Dr. Shaw regularly teach classes on the history of ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. From time to time, he also teach classes on existentialism and phenomenology, philosophy of art, and, thanks to a stroke of incredibly good luck, game design.