Joshua Shaw, Ph.D.

Joshua Shaw, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy and Bioethics, English and General Arts and Sciences programs
Faculty Affiliate, The Public Policy Initiative at Penn State Behrend
140 Kochel

Mailing Address:
ERIE, PA 16563

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. He is the former Program Chair for the General Arts and Sciences Major (GAS) and the Associate Degree in Letters, Arts, and Sciences (2LABC). 

Teaching and Research Interests

"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 teaches classes on the history of ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. From time to time, he also teaches classes on existentialism and phenomenology, philosophy of art, and, thanks to a stroke of incredibly good luck, game design.

Courses Taught

  • H&SS 297D, Introduction to Game Design
  • I HUM 495, Internship
  • PHIL 001, Basic Problems of Philosophy
  • PHIL 005, Philosophy, Art, and Film
  • PHIL 102H, Existentialism and European Philosophy
  • PHIL 103 and 103W, Introduction to Ethics
  • PHIL 119, Ethical Leadership
  • PHIL 132, Introduction to Bioethics
  • PHIL 296A, Independent Studies

Ethics; Applied Ethics; Medical Ethics; Bioethics; Twentieth-Century European Philosophy; Post-Holocaust Jewish Philosophy

All We Could Have Been and More - July, 2023

Is It a Wonderful Life? Frank Capra and Objective Lists Theories of Worth, Film-Philosophy - May, 2023

An Error Theory for Misanthropy, Journal of Philosophic Research - April, 2023

Surplus Embryos and Abortion, Social Theory and Practice - April, 2023

Why I am (still) not convinced heartbeat bills are defensible, Bioethics - January, 2023

The Flaw in Formalist Accounts of Circumvention Tourism, Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics - November, 2022

The Ethical Indefensibility of Heartbeat Bils, Bioethics - July, 2022

Procreational Responsibilities and the Parental Obligation Objection, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics - July, 2022

Crash Test Zombie, Tartts - February, 2022

Must Pessimists Be Suicidal?, Journal of Value Inquiry - January, 2022

Gilman, Necessary Fiction - January 12, 2022

Why Inconsistency Arguments Matter, The New Bioethics - December, 2021

Knight of Faith, After Happy Hour Review - October, 2020

Parks and Wildlife, Third Point Press - August, 2020

Justice in Emmanuel and John Rawls, International Journal of Philosophical Studies - August, 2020

Body Snatchers, Jokes Review - March, 2020

Later They Didn't, Cleaver - September, 2019

Wicked Source of Light, Cleaver - September, 2019

Hurry Down the Chimney Tonight, Kenyon Review Online - September, 2019

Levinas and the Ethics of War and Peace - May, 2019

Crash Test Zombie, Booth - March, 2019

Regulating Assisted Reproduction: Discrimination and the Right to Privacy, Clinical Ethics - March, 2019

Alterity - November, 2018

The Best of All Possible Worlds, Sundog Literature - October, 2018

Levinas and the Trauma of Responsibility, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews - September, 2018

Crash Test Zombie, Booth - July, 2018

Selecting for Disabilities: Selection versus Modification, The New Bioethics - March, 2018

Trixie's All-Stars, Pithead Chapel - March, 2018

Cure Light Wounds, Split Lip Magazine - May, 2017

"Finish Him!", Booth - February, 2017

What do Gestational Mothers Deserve?, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice - September, 2016

Finish Him!, Booth - March, 2016

Yet Part of the Scheme, Ad Astra - October, 2015

Zombie Ant Fungus, Hobart - January, 2015

Gratitude, Self-Assessment, and Moral Community, The Journal of Value Inquiry - November 24, 2013

Facing Nature: Levinas and Environmental Thought, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews - September, 2012

Why Don't Philosophers Tell Their Mothers' Stories? Philosophy, Motherhood, and Imaginative Resistance - January, 2012

Conversations with Emmanuel Levinas: 1984–1994 by Michäel de Saint Cheron, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews - January, 2011

Is Levinas’s Philosophy a Response to the Holocaust?, Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy - 2010

Philosophy of Humor, Philosophy Compass - 2010

'A Second Look at On Film.' Rev. of On Film, by Stephen Mulhall, Film-Philosophy - 2009

The Verge of Philosophy, symplokē - 2009

Levinas and Law: A Mosaic - June, 2009

Emmanuel Levinas on the Priority of Ethics: Putting Ethics First - 2008

Jean-Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question, symplokē - 2008

Feminism, Sexiness, and Objectification: Can Anyone Be Sexy? Should Everyone Be Sexy?, Proceedings of the American Society for Aesthetics Pacific Division Meeting - 2006

Addressing Levinas, symplokē - 2005

Curt Ducasse, The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers - 2005

George Henry Calvert, The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers - 2005

Irwin Edman, The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers - 2005

Obstacles to Teaching Feminist Aesthetics, American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter - 2005

Why Does Feminism Matter to Aesthetics?, Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics - 2005

Annotated Bibliography of Writings in Feminism and Aesthetics, Hypatia - 2003

'Struggling to See the Light.' Rev. of Textures of Light, by Cathryn Vasseleu, Film-Philosophy - 2002

The Paradox of Sinister Beauty, Proceedings of the American Society for Aesthetics Pacific Division Meeting - 2002

A Different Kind of Tragedy: Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, Annandale - 2000

Introduction: Some Thoughts on Mastering the Humanities / Are We the Greeks?, Corerelations - 1998

PHD, Philosophy, Indiana University

MA, Humanities, The University of Chicago

BA, Philosophy, Bard College