Dr Cristian Constantinescu (on leave fall-spring 2016-7)
Cristian joined Birkbeck as Lecturer in Philosophy in 2010. Prior to that he was educated at the University of Bucharest (BA, MA), and then at Oxford (BPhil) and Cambridge (PhD). Cristian was a scholar of the Dulverton Trust at Oxford and of the Newton Trust at Cambridge. He also taught philosophy for one year at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest.
My main research is in ethics and metaethics. I also have longstanding interests in philosophical debates around naturalism, expressivism, evolutionary accounts of morality, Humeanism about motivation, and generally all things Hume. More widely, I am also interested in the philosophy of language, and in particular in theories of vagueness. Lately I've been thinking a lot about moral vagueness.
My current research project is an investigation of ‘moral vagueness’, by which I mean the vagueness of moral predicates. The phenomenon has not received much attention thus far. But many lessons - both for moral philosophers and for philosophers of language - can be drawn from the careful study of moral vagueness.
One line of enquiry within this project concerns the metaethical implications of moral vagueness. I have argued in a recent paper that moral vagueness poses a dilemma for non-naturalist versions of metaethical realism. I am currently working on two more papers exploring related matters: in one I investigate the prospects of a quasi-realist account of moral vagueness in terms of ambivalence; in the other I explore the specific ways in which naturalists can account for vagueness, focusing on the proposed analogy between moral predicates and natural kind terms.
A second line of research concerns the links between vagueness and incommensurability. One of the views I seek to defend is that comparative predicates (e.g., ‘better than’, or ‘kinder than’) exhibit a sui generis form of vagueness I call ‘comparative vagueness’, which has fascinating implications for the way in which we make comparative judgments. I have recently completed a paper in which I argue that comparative vagueness bears on Parfit’s so called ‘repugnant conclusion’, and on the failures of transitivity discussed by philosophers such as Rachels and Temkin. I am also currently drafting a longer paper in which I shed light on the question whether evaluative predicates like ‘good’ are reducible to their comparative forms.
- 'Vague Comparisons', Ratio, Vol 29, No. 4, 2016, pp. 357-377.
- ‘Moral Vagueness: A Dilemma for Non-Naturalism’, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 9, 2014, pp. 152-185.
- ‘Value Incomparability and Indeterminacy’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2012, pp. 57-70.
- ‘A Note on Kripke’s Puzzle about Belief’, The Reasoner, Vol. 1, No. 4, 2007, pp. 8-9.
- ‘Translating Kripke’s Pierre: Reply to Prof. Goldstein’, The Reasoner, Vol. 1, No. 7, 2007, pp. 5-6.
- Gandeste, All, Bucharest, 2009. Romanian translation of Simon Blackburn’s Think (Oxford University Press, 1999).
- Sociologia. Foarte scurta introducere, All, Bucharest, 2003. Romanian translation of Steve Bruce’s Sociology. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 1999).
I am happy to supervise graduate students in most areas of ethics and metaethics. Topics on which I am currently supervising include: evolutionary accounts of ethics, ethical naturalism, internalism/externalism about reasons, virtue ethics, contractualism, just war theory, moral dilemmas.