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Gordon Davis

Moral philosophy; Kant; Social and political philosophy; Metaethics; Comparative history of ethics

Degrees:B.A. (McGill), B. Phil (Oxford), M. Ed. (Toronto), B. Ed. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Oxford)
Office:3A51 Paterson Hall

Associate Professor


Gordon Davis’s research includes both historical work on ethical, political and metaphysical themes in the works of Hume, Kant and their contemporaries, and investigations into the applicability of methods of argument developed by these philosophers – as well as neo-Humean and neo-Kantian variations – to contemporary debates in ethics and metaethics. One of Gordon’s current projects explores the prospects for a theoretical synthesis of key elements within the three main traditions of contemporary ethical theory (consequentialism, Kantian deontology and virtue ethics). He also has a strong interest in applied ethics – especially issues surrounding biotechnology and obligations to future generations.

Research Interests

  • Moral and political philosophy
  • Metaethics
  • History of modern philosophy (esp. Hume, Kant and Kantian philosophy)
  • History of Ethics
  • Comparative Philosophy

Selected Publications

“Self-sceptical ethics and Selfless Morality: A Historical and Cross-Cultural Overview,” in G. Davis (ed.), Ethics without Self, Dharma without Atman: Western & Buddhist Philosophical Traditions in Dialogue (Springer 2018).

“The Atipada Problem in Buddhist Meta-Ethics,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 2018.

“Moral Realism and Anti-Realism outside the West: A Meta-Ethical Turn in Buddhist Ethics”, Comparative Philosophy, volume 4 (2): 24-53.

“The Normativity of Inclusion and Exclusion: Should Multiculturalism Encompass Religious Identities?”  Forthcoming in Multiculturalism and Religious Identity (ed. L. Beaman & S. Sikka, McGill-Queen’s University Press)

“Conceptions and Intuitions of the Highest Good in Buddhist Philosophy: A Meta-Ethical Analysis.”  Forthcoming in Comparative Philosophy and J.L. Shaw (ed. P. Bilimoria & M. Hemmingsen, for Sophia Studies in Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Cultures and Traditions, Springer)

“Buddhist, Western and Hybrid Perspectives on Liberty Rights and Economic Rights”, forthcoming in Value and Values: Economics and Justice in an Age of Global Interdependence (ed. R. Ames & P. Hershock, University of Hawaii Press)

“Traces of Consequentialism and Non-Consequentialism in Bodhisattva Ethics”, Philosophy East and West, volume 64 (1): 275-305.

“Civic Respect, Civic Education and the Family” (with B.E. Neufeld), Educational Philosophy and Theory, special issue on “Toleration, Respect and Recognition”, Volume 42 (1): 94-111.

“Political Liberalism, Civic Education and Educational Choice” (with B.E. Neufeld), Social Theory and Practice 33(1): 47-74.

“Philosophical Psychology and Economic Psychology in David Hume and Adam Smith”, History of Political Economy 35(2): 269-304.