Samuel C. Rickless

Professor of Philosophy

                                                                                                      [updated: 12/02/2021]


If you would like to learn more about me and my work, please choose among the links on the left side of this webpage.
My research interests include the history of European philosophy (with emphasis on Plato, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Shepherd), moral philosophy (particularly non-consequentialist ethics based on the doctrine of doing and allowing and a secular version of the doctrine of double effect), legal philosophy (including issues of legal interpretation and problems related to the right to privacy, as well as due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution), and the philosophy of language.  I am a member of the Moral Judgments Project, working with professors and graduate students in philosophy and psychology on research in experimental philosophy.  

The courses I teach regularly include symbolic logic (Phil 120), the history of early modern European philosophy (Phil 111), Plato (Phil 100), freedom, equality, and the law (Phil 165), and more recently the meaning of life (Phil 141).

In 2018-19 and 2019-20, I coached the UC San Diego Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team(s).  I took a hiatus in 2020-21, but we have a new team in 2021-22 and I am looking forward to the California Regional Tournament (see more below).      


 Recently published:

 "Locke on the Probability of the Mind's Immateriality," Locke Studies 20: 1-28.

Recently accepted for publication:

"Sensitivity to Shifts in Probability of Harm and Benefit in Moral Dilemmas," Cognition (with Arseny A. Ryazanov, Shawn Tinghao Wang, Craig R. M. McKenzie, and Dana Kay Nelkin).   

Recently completed:

Draft of a chapter on Mary Shepherd's views on causation, "Shepherd's Argument for the Causal Maxim: 'There is no Object Which Begins to Exist, but Must Owe its Existence to Some Cause.'"  The chapter will appear in a collection of essays on Mary Shepherd, edited by Keota Fields.     

Draft of a paper on legal adjudication, "A Theory of Legal Adjudication," which was the subject of a workshop at UCLA Law School in November 2021.      

 In Press:

“Non-Consequentialist Principles Under Conditions of Uncertainty: A Framework” (with Dana Kay Nelkin). In The Trolley Problem, Hallvard Lillehammer (ed.).    

You can find a podcast in which I discuss my meaning of life course here.

More News 

September-December 2021: ETHICS BOWL!  With the invaluable assistance of philosophy graduate students Aaron Chipp-Miller, Karina Ortiz-Villa, and Sam Ridge, I have been coaching the UCSD Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team in preparation for the California Regional Tournament on December 4. This year's team consists of the amazing and talented Sarah Kang, Rishabh Raj, Anthony Ruiz, Max Zekowski, and Eva Zhuang. Go Tritons!