Shelly Kagan is the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and the former Henry R. Luce Professor of Social Thought and Ethics. Originally a native of Skokie, Illinois, he received his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University under the supervision of Thomas Nagel in 1982. He taught at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Illinois at Chicago before arriving at Yale. Kagan is of Jewish descent.
According to his Yale web page, his main research interests "lie in moral philosophy, in particular normative ethics. Indeed, my second book is a systematic survey of the field of normative ethics, considered analytically (rather than historically, as is more typical of textbooks in ethics). More particularly still, much of my work centers on the debate between consequentialist and deontological moral theories."
An article in the Yale Bulletin and Calendar says that his book The Limits of Morality "critiques so-called ordinary morality; the view that there are limits to what morality can impose on humans; and defends the doctrine of classical utilitarianism, which holds that people are morally obliged, without limit, to do as much good as they can." His Normative Ethics "examines how to judge the rightness or wrongness of actions, exploring such factors as consequences, harm and consent."
Kagan is currently exploring the concept of desert, which is a philosophical concept of what individuals do or do not deserve. He is working on a book called The Geometry of Desert to be published in the future. Kagan is also a member of the editorial board of the journal Ethics.
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