Sarah Buss

Sarah Buss

Fellow: Awarded 2020
Field of Study: Philosophy

Competition: US & Canada

Sarah Buss discovered philosophy on her parents’ bookshelves — in the great 19th-century novels and their deep probings of the human condition.  Sarah’ work explores the questions raised by this early reading.  She has written on autonomy, moral responsibility, and respect for persons. She has developed accounts of weakness of will, our moral obligations to the needy, the rationality of our concern for our own happiness, the relationship between intentional action and evaluative commitments, the relevance of childhood deprivation to assignments of blame, the moral importance of etiquette, and the metaphysical significance of illness.  Her more recent projects address the normative significance of formal principles of practical rationality, the nature of reasons for action, and the moral implications of certain basic human capacities.  In developing her views on many of these subjects, she has become increasingly interested in the human vulnerability to incoherence.  She traces this vulnerability to two facts: (i) human beings have a wide range of heterogeneous commitments and (ii) human beings are capable of distancing themselves from their own commitments.  By exploring these facts, Sarah aims to illuminate the significance of the many ways we can fail to be at one with ourselves.

Photo Credit: Henry Paulson

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