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Professor Emeritus


I am a Professor of Philosophy and a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Environment, Culture and Values.  My research lies in the philosophy of the life sciences, including the philosophy of biology and bioethics.  Broadly speaking, my approach to philosophy is analytic and critically pro-science. It is also highly interdisciplinary; and, as a result, my work has been supported by grants from all three Canadian 'Tri-Council' agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC).  My publications and ongoing projects include philosophical questions pertaining to the following:

  • Scientific theory, practice, and policy  particularly ecological research, conservation efforts, and our interactions with nonhuman animals;
  • The structure of evolutionary biology and its implications for the study of cultural evolution  specifically, the insights available through studying songbird calls using agent-based computational modelling; and
  • International trade and access to health care resources, social justice, and exploitation  including the impact of migration of health care workers, international surrogacy markets, and the introduction of novel genetic technologies.

In addition to scholarly research, I seek to contribute to the broader community.  Current examples include: membership on a CIHR Institutional Advisory Board, membership on a Working Group of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), and a partnership with Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) through a conservation-focused training program 'ReNewZoo' ( am also one of the founding members of the Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation (CEEEC, pronounced 'seek')  multi-disciplinary research centre housed at Laurentian. (

My educational and professional background in philosophy began with a B.A. in Philosophy from McMaster University.  Having had my interest in the philosophy of biology piqued, I undertook an M.A. at the University of Guelph, where I studied with Professor Michael Ruse (who is currently at Florida State University). My Ph.D. was conducted at the University of Western Ontario, under the supervision of Professor Wayne Myrvold and Professor William (Bill) Harper, where my interests focused on the standards of evidence in evolutionary genetics and cultural evolution.  Subsequently, I explored the ethical and policy dimensions of the biological and health sciences through a CIHR-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship at Dalhousie University, with Professor Françoise Baylis in her Novel Tech Ethics research group.  Prior to joining Laurentian University in 2011, I held a tenure-track Assistant Professorship in Philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago.  I have also had the fortune to be a Visiting Scholar several times at the University of Otago in New Zealand.  I am grateful for the range of experience and opportunities afforded to me, and my research program is heavily indebted to mentors and colleagues at these institutions.


  • PhD in Philosophy, University of Western Ontario
  • MA in Philosophy, University of Guelph
  • BA (Hons) in Philosophy, McMaster University

Academic Appointments

On The Web


My research lies in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences, including the Philosophy of Biology and Bioethics. In the realm of Bioethics, my primiary interests lie in the global impact of novel technologies for social justice, including the distribution of medical goods and services, including (but not limited to) the migration of care workers, medical and reproductive tourism. In the Philosophy of Biology, I investigate the application of Darwinian selection models to cultural change using formal models of bird song transmission. Spaning both the Philosophy of Biology and Bioethics, I also conduct work on the ethics of ecological research, and on the role of science in human-nonhuman animal relations.


Selected Grants and Awards

  • "ReNewZoo: Training Conservation Professionals for the Zoo/Aquarium of the 21st Century," NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program, (Co-applicant), with Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde (PI), and Gary Burness, Clint Kelly, David Lesbarreres, Jaqueline Litzgus, Gabriela Mastromonaco, Axel Moehrenschlager, Arne Mooers, Trevor Pitcher, and Andrew Trites (as Co-applicants). 2016-2023
  • "Chimpopolis: Science, Society, and the Philosophical Animal," SSHRC Insight Development Program, Co-applicant, with Letitia Meynell (PI), Andrew Fenton (as Co-applicant), and Will Kymlicka, Sue Donaldson, John Gluck, Tony Smith, David Pena-Guzman, Soumi Ghosh (as Collaborators). 2016-2018
  • NOHFC Internship Program, PI with Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, Brett Buchanan, Jacqueline Litzgus, and David Lesbarrères (as Collaborators). 2014-2016 
  • "The Ethics of Ecological Research," SSHRC Insight Development Program, PI with Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde and Paul Hansen (as Co-Investigators), and with Brett Buchanan, Jacqueline Litzgus, and David Lesbarrères (as Collaborators). 2014-2016 
  • SSHRC Aid to Small Universities Program, PI, with Brett Buchanan, Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, Jacqueline Litzgus, and David Lesbarrères (as Co-Investigators). 2014-2018 
  • "Thinking Extinction" SSHRC Connections Program, Co-Investigator with Brett Buchanan (as PI) and Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde (as Collaborator), 2013-2014 
  • "Health and the Environment," CIHR Café Scientifique Program, 2013-2014 
  • Canada Research Chair Program(Tier 2), 2011-2016, 2016-2021  
  • CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, 2007-2009


I teach a variety of courses on the philosophy of science, on applied ethics and global social justice, and on the relationships between humans and both nonhuman animals and the environment. In the Winter term of 2020, I am offering an introductory course on formal logic ("Logic" PHIL 2336) as well as a seminar course on the philosophy of technology ("Technology, freedom, and values PHIL 2747).


 Selected Publications 
  • Chimpanzee Rights: The Philosophers' Brief. (with Krisin Andrews, Gary Comstock, et al.) Routledge (2019)
  • "Surrogacy as medical tourism," (with David M. Pena-Guzman) Handbook of Gestational Surrogacy: International Clinical Practice and Policy Issues (ed. E. Scott Sills), Cambridge University Press, 46-54. (2016)
  • "Why training in ecological research must incorporate ethics education," (with Albrecht I. Schulte-Hostedde) Hastings Centre Report 45(5), 14-19. (2015)
  • "Towards improving the ethics of ecological research," (with Albrecht I. Schulte-Hostedde) Science and Engineering Ethics​ 27(3), 577-594 (2015)
  • "The ethics of wildlife disease management," (with Albrecht I. Schulte-Hostedde) Evolutionary Applications (2014).
  • "At the intersections of emotional and biological labor: Understanding transnational reproductive travel and surrogacy as social reproduction," (with Jennifer L. Johnson and Christopher M. Hajzler)  International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 7(2). (2014).
  • "The ethics of moral compromise for stem cell research policy," (with Zubin Master) Health Care Analysis 20(1): 781-801. (2013)
  • "A formal investigation of Cultural Selection Theory: Acoustic adaptation in bird song," Biology and Philosophy 25: 781-801. (2010)
  • "Market stimulus and genomic justice: Evaluating the effects of market access to human germ-line enhancement," (with Christopher M. Hajzler) Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 20(2): 161-179. (2010)
  • "Reconsidering Cultural Selection Theory," British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59(3) 455-479. (2008)