On March 26, Christa Johnson successfully defended her dissertation "How to be a Nonconsequentialist: A Defense of Deontological Constraints.” Congrats, Dr. Johnson!
Here’s Christa’s description of her dissertation project: "I propose and defend a fully-relative nonconsequentialist normative moral theory, MATRC (pronounced, may-trick), that I argue is able to stave off both paradox and triviality, something several initially plausible versions of nonconsequentialism have failed to do. On my view, Constraints are both Agent and Time Relative. For example, while I certainly have moral reason to prevent you from killing innocent people, I am constrained from killing an innocent person in service of those reasons. Moreover, I am constrained from infringing a constraint now, just to prevent some future constraint infringement. So, on my view, there are moral constraints in virtue of which I, myself, cannot, at the present moment, permissibly perform certain actions, such as killing innocent persons, even if doing so would maximize the good. But, I argue that these constraints are moderate, rather than absolute (the “M” in MATRC). Absolute views maintain that constraint infringements are morally impermissible in all cases. However, I argue that in certain cases, such as to save a million people, constraint infringements are permissible."
Christa is currently Visiting Instructor at Oberlin College, and will continue to work there next year as Visiting Assistant Professor.