Samuel C. Rickless

Professor of Philosophy

                                                                                                      [updated: 01/22/2021]


If you would like to learn more about me and my work, please choose among the links on the left side of this webpage.
My research interests include the history of European philosophy (with emphasis on Plato, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Shepherd), moral philosophy (particularly non-consequentialist ethics based on the doctrine of doing and allowing and a secular version of the doctrine of double effect), legal philosophy (including issues of legal interpretation and problems related to the right to privacy, as well as due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution), and the philosophy of language.  I am a member of the Moral Judgments Project, working with professors and graduate students in philosophy and psychology on research in experimental philosophy.  

The courses I teach regularly include symbolic logic (Phil 120), the history of early modern European philosophy (Phil 111), Plato (Phil 100), freedom, equality, and the law (Phil 165), and more recently the meaning of life (Phil 141).

In 2018-19 and 2019-20, I coached the UC San Diego Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team(s).  I am taking a hiatus this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I hope to be back coaching in 2021-22.      


 Just published:

 "Locke on the Probability of the Mind's Immateriality," Locke Studies 20: 1-28.

Recently accepted for publication:

"Sensitivity to Shifts in Probability of Harm and Benefit in Moral Dilemmas," Cognition (with Arseny A. Ryazanov, Shawn Tinghao Wang, Craig R. M. McKenzie, and Dana Kay Nelkin).   

Recently completed:

Draft of a chapter on Mary Shepherd's views on causation, "Shepherd's Argument for the Causal Maxim: 'There is no Object Which Begins to Exist, but Must Owe its Existence to Some Cause.'"  The chapter will appear in a collection of essays on Mary Shephed, edited by Keota Fields.          

You can find a podcast in which I discuss my meaning of life course here.

Older News 

September-December 2019: ETHICS BOWL!  With the invaluable assistance of Cory Davia (UCSD philosophy Ph.D. candidate) and Daniel Callies (post-doctoral researcher at the UCSD Institute for Practical Ethics), I coached two UCSD Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl teams in preparation for the California Regional Tournament in Tempe, AZ on December 7.  Team 1 achieved a 4-0 record, earning second place and receiving an invitation to the National Ethics Bowl Tournament in Atlanta, GA on February 22-23, 2020.  Team 2 did very well, defeating one of the top five teams in the tournament, and earning a 2-1-1 record.  In eight rounds, the two teams combined collected six wins, one draw, and one loss.  An amazing achievement for students who had never before competed in any Ethics Bowl tournament!  Congratulations to Kayla Aceves, Aaron Chipp-Miller, Isaac Han, Tremaine Harvey, Nolan Karma, Harrison Lynch, Jeremy Moore, Luke Smith, Phoenix Wang, and Max Zekowski.

February 2020: MORE ETHICS BOWL!  Team I participated in the National Ethics Bowl Tournament in Atlanta, GA on February 22-23, 2020, and earned a 1-2-1 record against distinguished competitors.  Although Team I did not make it to the final rounds of the tournament, it tied the team that went on to place third in the tournament (one of the nation's ethics bowl powerhouses, Whitworth University, which won the national title in 2019).  This too is a remarkable achievement for students who had never before competed in the National Ethics Bowl tournament!  Congratulations to Aaron Chipp-Miller, Isaac Han, Tremaine Harvey, Jeremy Moore, and Phoenix Wang.