Prof. R. Jay Wallace


I am Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where I also hold the William and Trudy Ausfahl Chair.

I am first and foremost a moral philosopher, with interests that extend to all parts of the subject (including its history), and to such allied areas as political philosophy, philosophy of law, and philosophy of action. My research has ranged widely within these areas, addressing questions about responsibility, moral psychology, normative ethics, and the theory of practical reason. Recently I have written on promising, normativity, constructivism, resentment, hypocrisy, love, regret, affirmation, obligation, and anger (among other topics). My newest book, The Moral Nexus (Princeton, 2019), is a study of the relational structure of the moral domain. Other books include Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments (Harvard, 1994), Normativity and the Will (Oxford, 2006), and The View from Here: On Affirmation, Attachment, and the Limits of Regret (Oxford, 2013). A recent interview with Kieran Setiya may be listened to here.

I was an undergraduate at Williams College, where I received the B.A. degree in 1979. I did my graduate work at the University of Oxford (B.Phil. 1983) and at Princeton University (Ph.D. 1988). I have taught at Wesleyan University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and have held visiting positions at universities in Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. I was Chair of the Philosophy Department at Berkeley from 2005-2010, and I served on the Berkeley Budget Committee (the university-level academic personnel committee) from 2013-2016, chairing the committee in academic year 2015-2016. I was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021. Other honors include a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and a senior Research Award (“Forschungspreis”) from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. I received an Einstein Visiting Fellowship to support intensive collaborations with philosophers in Berlin from 2016 through 2020.

I was the son of a Naval officer, and moved constantly while growing up, living for shorter or longer periods in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Dakar (Senegal), California, and Maine. My wife and I divide our time between Berkeley, California and Berlin, Germany.