Scholarship

evolute
This page is a partial answer to all those students and friends over the years who have asked me, “So, you mean you teach classes just two days per week? What do you do all the rest of the time?!?” (Translation: “Whatever they’re paying you, it’s too much.”)

Never mind the fact that behind all those wonderful classes lie many hours of preparation each week…. The answer is that I spend my (little remaining) time racking my brain trying to understand some of the most difficult and perplexing problems in philosophy, and putting my thoughts together into what I hope is some semblance of order and coherence. Most of these efforts take the form of articles published in professional journals. You can check out my curriculum vitae to get a snapshot of my scholarly efforts. You can find most of my articles at: https://lmu.academia.edu/TimothyShanahan.

My main scholarly and research interests have been in the history and philosophy of science, with a special interest in philosophical issues in evolutionary biology. My curiosity about such issues began as an undergraduate Biology and Philosophy major at the State University of New York at Cortland, and continued through a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame, where I wrote a doctoral dissertation in Philosophy on “the units of selection problem” in evolutionary biology. I was also extremely fortunate to be awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Science Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego, which helped to broaden my perspective on science considerably. I managed to pull together much of my work on the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology in The Evolution of Darwinism: Selection, Adaptation, and Progress in Evolutionary Biology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

While preparing and teaching a course in Ireland in 1998, 2001, and 2003 for LMU students on “the Troubles” of Northern Ireland, I became interested in philosophical issues connected with terrorism. I organized a conference on Understanding Terrorism; Philosophical Issues, at LMU, September 11-13, 2003. The conference brought together scholars, both civilian and military, to consider such issues as how “terrorism” and the “war on terrorism” might be conceptualized, moral issues connected with targeted killing and preemptive strikes, the status of captured terrorists as criminals or as prisoners of war, the legitimacy of torture interrogation, and the like. A edited collection of papers from the conference was published as Philosophy 9/11: Thinking about the War on Terrorism (Chicago: Open Court, 2005). Still desiring to understand the morality of terrorism more deeply, I completed a book-length philosophical analysis of the conflict in Northern Ireland, entitled The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009).

Finally, I have an abiding interest in films that address philosophical issues. A few years ago I was struck by the great number of deep philosophical issues that arise in Ridley Scott’s brilliant sci-fi film, Blade Runner (1982) that had apparently gone unnoticed by most viewers and even by most philosophers. So I decided to explore these issues in depth. The result is Philosophy and Blade Runner (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) —-   released on June 25 — thirty-two years to the day after Blade Runner first hit US theaters. I’ve put together a page on this website for you to learn more about the book and the film. Check it out!

Currently, I’m co-editing and contributing chapters to a new book on Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 for Routledge’s Philosophers on Film series, which I hope will be out in 2019 — the year very year in which the original Blade Runner film is set. A coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

So, now you know….