About Dr. 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 published research is in the areas of Moral Theory and the History of Ethics, with an emphasis on Human Dignity, Metaethics, Moral Psychology, Empathy, the Philosophy of Emotion and Enlightenment Ethics (esp. David Hume and Adam Smith).
In the summer of 2017, Prof. Debes took over as Editor of The Southern Journal of Philosophy. He is also working on a new book manuscript exploring the ideas of understanding, empathy, respect, and human dignity, and the connections between these subjects and questions of social difference, power, and justice.
Prof. Debes has taught Introduction to Philosophy, Ethical Theory, Contemporary Moral Problems, the Philosophy of Law, and graduate seminars on Respect, 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 a College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award. He is the former Director of Undergraduate Advising and in 2011 was the sole recipient of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Advising. He served as Secretary and Treasurer to the International Adam Smith Society for over 6 years, and is currently on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Scottish Philosophy. In 2014 he was the recipient of a 72K grant from the Templeton Foundation for his project, “Understanding as a Form of Respect.” In 2015 he was invited to join the President’s Research Vision Committee. And since 2016 he has served on the executive committee for the Provost’s Critical Conversations program.
Editor, Dignity: A History, part of the Oxford Philosophical Concept series (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
Co-Editor (with Karsten Stueber), Ethical Sentimentalism: New Perspectives (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming November 2017).
“Understanding Persons and the Problem of Power.” In Making Sense of the World: New Essays in the Philosophy of Understanding, Ed. Stephen Grimm (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, October 2017).
“The Authority of Empathy.” In Ethical Sentimentalism, Ed. Remy Debes and Karsten Stueber (Cambridge University Press, November 2017).
“Empathy and mirror neurons.” In, Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy, Ed. Heidi Maibom. (Routledge, 2017) 54-63
“Adam Smith and the Sympathetic Imagination.” In Adam Smith: His Life, Thought, and Legacy Ed. Ryan Hanley. (New York: Princeton University Press, 2016) 192-207.
“From Einfühlung to Empathy: Sympathy in Early Phenomenology and Psychology.” In Sympathy: A History, Ed. Eric Schliesser. Part of the new Oxford Philosophical Concepts series. (Oxford University Press, 2015).
“Adam Smith on Dignity and Equality,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 20:1 (2012): 109-140
Recent & Upcoming Presentations
Discussion Leader, Liberty Fund Seminar. “Liberty, Family, and Self-Direction in Jane Austen.” Miami Beach, December 2017.
“Understanding Persons and the Problem of Power.” Wesleyan University. Sep. 2017
“Understanding as Respect(ing).” Ninth European Congress of Analytic Philosophy (ECAP9) in Munich (21 - 26 August 2017).