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Dr. Duncan Purves

Dr. Duncan Purves

Currently Teaching

  • Contemporary Moral Issues (UFO)

Office Hours (Spring)

  • Mondays 10:00am – 11:30am

Areas of Specialization

  • Ethical Theory
  • Applied Ethics
  • Ethics of Technology
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Bioethics

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

Office: 313 Griffin-Floyd
Dr. Purves is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. He specializes in ethics, especially ethical issues concerning artificial intelligence and the treatment of non-human animals. His past work was on ethical issues related to so-called 'autonomous weapons systems,' weapons which can target enemies without human oversight. He now has an NSF grant to investigate the ethical dimensions of predictive policing algorithms, which are being used to identify places and people at highest risk of crime. Some of the ethical concerns he is looking at include discriminatory impacts and community distrust. He also has significant work on theoretical issues related to the nature and normative significance of harm.

Funded Projects

  • Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Policing: An Ethical Analysis, with co-Principal Investigator Ryan Jenkins (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo), National Science Foundation. Project Site | NSF Project Description

Edited Volume



  • "Moral differences between autonomous weapons and autonomous vehicles", Autonomous Vehicles Symposium, Orlando, Florida (Invited). July 2019.
  • "Predictive policing: unbiased and unfair?"
    • Information Ethics Roundtable: Conference on Justice and Fairness in Machine Learning and Big Data, Northeastern University. April 2019.
    • University of Massachusetts, Boston, Center for Applied Ethics (Invited) September 2019
  • "Unjust Enrichment and the Consumption of Animal Products"
    • Florida Philosophical Association, Pensacola, FL. November, 2018.
    • Philosophy Colloquium Series, University of South Carolina (Invited). October 2019.
  • "Predictive policing and the demands of justice". Cal Poly Philosophy Department and Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering (Invited). May 2018.
  • "Ethics and ecology of genetic interventions to prevent wild animal suffering"
    • University of Colorado—Boulder's Environmental Studies Departmental Colloquium Series (Invited). March, 2018.
    • Rutgers-Camden's Philosophy Department Workshop on Enhancements (Invited). April, 2018.
  • "Convergence and Divergence between Animal and Environmental Ethics"
    • Centre de Recherche en Éthique, Montreal, Quebec. May 2017.
    • Second Annual Bovay Workshop on Engineering and Applied Ethics, Texas A&M. March 2017.
  • "Autonomous weapon systems: research, risk, and responsibility" (Invited) Dialogues in Research Ethics, University of Miami Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy. November, 2017.
  • "Desire satisfaction, death, and time". The Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, Colorado University, Boulder. August 2017.
  • "Meaning in the lives of humans and other animals" Human and Non-human Animals: Minds and Morals. University of Connecticut, Storrs CT. May 2017.
  • "Should we design artificial intelligence to have false moral beliefs?" Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, CU Boulder, Aug 2016.
  • "Harming, failing to benefit, and the causing/allowing distinction" Bled Philosophical Conference, Bled, Slovenia, June 2016.
  • "Life-improving organ transplantation: some ethical questions" Invited Speaker, Society of Bioethics and Medicine, Brooklyn College, Spring 2016.
  • "Death and timeless values" International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying, Syracuse, May 2016.
  • "Must robots be consequentialists?"
    • Future of Just War, Naval Postgraduate School, Oct 2015
    • Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, CU Boulder, Aug 2015.
  • "The harms of death" Young Scholars Workshop for the Immortality Project, UC Riverside, May 2015.
  • "Intergenerational justice and discounting the future" American Philosophical Association, St. Louis, Feb 2015.
  • "Criteria for a successful account of the harm of death" International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying, Pomona, Oct 2014.
  • "The case for discounting the future" Workshop on Ethical Underpinnings of Climate Economics, Helsinki, Nov 2014.
  • "Right intention and the ends of war" International Society for Military Ethics, Notre Dame, Oct 2014.
  • "How to raise the levelling down objection without appealing to the slogan" Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, CU Boulder, Aug 2014.
  • "A counterexample to two accounts of harm" Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Philosophical Society, Nov 2013.
  • "You are what I eat: moral implications of GMOs for future generations"" International Social Philosophy Conference, Quinnipiac, Jul 2013.
  • "Death and disability: two problems for the event-based account of harm" American Philosophical Association, San Francisco, Mar 2013.
  • "The non-identity problem and the levelling-down objection" Illinois Philosophical Association, UI Urbana-Champagne, Nov 2012.
  • "The distinctive feeling of desire theory of pleasure" Midsouth Philosophy Conference, Rhodes College, Memphis, Feb 2012.
  • "Still in hot water: doing, allowing, and Rachels' bathtub cases" Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Philosophical Society, Nov 2010.