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Remy Debes

After earning a B.A. at Boston University, Prof. Debes completed his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Michigan, where he won awards for both his teaching and his dissertation work, including a Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship in 2005-06. He joined the faculty at Memphis in 2006. His research is in the areas of Ethics and the History of Ethics, with an emphasis on Scottish Enlightenment, Moral Psychology, the Philosophy of Emotion. He is the current Secretary and Treasurer for the International Adam Smith Society.

Prof. Debes has published journal articles on the moral philosophy of David Hume (two in British Journal for the History of Philosophy), Adam Smith (in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy), Scottish sentimentalism (Journal of Scottish Philosophy), the nature of emotion (Philosophical Studies), human dignity (Philosophical Perspectives, supplement to Nous on Ethics), and empathy (Synthese).

Recent work includes "Moral Realism and Moral Rationalism" (forthcoming in the Routledge Guide to 18th Century Philosophy), "Moral Sentiments" (forthcoming entry in the International Encyclopedia of Ethics), "Hume on Personal Merit" (forthcoming in Reading Hume on the Principles of Morals, OUP), and "From Einfuhlung to Empathy" (forthcoming in Sympathy, part of the new Oxford Philosophical Concept series). He is also Editor of "Empathy and Ethics," 2011 Spindel Supplement to The Southern Journal of Philosophy, featuring contributions by Stephan Darwall, Peter Goldie, John Deigh, Julia Driver, Jesse Prinz, Michael Slote, and many more.

Current projects include editing a volume in the Oxford Philosophical Concepts series on "Dignity," co-Directing with Gordon Graham a conference on "Scottish Reactions to Mandeville" at the Princeton Seminary, and guest editing a special issue of the Journal of Scottish Philosophy dedicated to the proceedings of this conference.

Prof. Debes has taught Introduction to Philosophy, Ethical Theory, Contemporary Moral Problems, the Philosophy of Law, and graduate seminars on Human Dignity, Empathy, and Scottish Sentimentalism. In 2009 he was named an Alumni Distinguished Teacher, one of four faculty members university-wide to receive this recognition. He was recognized again in 2010 with one of two College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Awards. He served as Director of Undergraduate Advising from 2008-2011 and in 2011 was the sole recipient of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Advising.

Dr. Debes serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Curriculum vitae


Selected Publications


"Moral Sentiments," International Encyclopedia of Ethics, ed. H. LaFollette, J. Deigh, and S. Stroud (forthcoming).

"Adam Smith on Dignity and Equality," British Journal for the History of Philosophy (forthcoming).

"Which Empathy? Limitations in the Mirrored 'Understanding' of Emotion," Synthese 175 (2) (2010): 219-39.

"Neither Here Nor There: The Cognitive Nature of Emotion," Philosophical Studies 146 (1) (2009): 1-27.

"Dignity's Gauntlet," Philosophical Perspectives 23 (2009) pdf

"Humanity, Sympathy, and the Puzzle of Hume's Second Enquiry," British Journal for the History of Philosophy 15 (1) (2007): 27-57.


Recent & Upcoming Presentations


"The Ethics of Empathy," Mississippi State University (invited).

"What You Don't Know about Hume Can Hurt You," University of San Francisco (invited).

"The Peculiar Ethics of David Hume," South Central Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, Texas A&M University (invited).

Contact Details
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Office: 113 Clement Hall
Phone: 901-678-3352
Fax: 901-678-4365
Email: rdebes<at>memphis<dot>edu
UM drive
Office Hours (Fall 2013): Wednesday 3:00-4:00pm, Thursday 12:00-1:00pm
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Last Updated: 9/13/13