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About Timothy Shanahan

My main scholarly and research interests have been in the history and philosophy of science, with a special interest in philosophical issues in evolutionary biology. My curiosity about such issues began as an undergraduate Biology and Philosophy major at the State University of New York at Cortland, and continued through a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame, where I wrote a doctoral dissertation in Philosophy on “the units of selection problem” in evolutionary biology. I was also extremely fortunate to be awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Science Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego, which helped to broaden my perspective on science considerably. I managed to pull together much of my work on the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology in THE EVOLUTION OF DARWINISM: SELECTION, ADAPTATION, AND PROGRESS IN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
While preparing and teaching a course in Ireland in 1998, 2001, and 2003 for LMU students on “the Troubles” of Northern Ireland, I became interested in philosophical issues connected with terrorism. I organized a conference on Understanding Terrorism; Philosophical Issues, at LMU, September 11-13, 2003. The conference brought together scholars, both civilian and military, to consider such issues as how “terrorism” and the “war on terrorism” might be conceptualized, moral issues connected with targeted killing and preemptive strikes, the status of captured terrorists as criminals or as prisoners of war, the legitimacy of torture interrogation, and the like. An edited collection of papers from the conference was published as PHILOSOPHY 9/11: THINKING ABOUT THE WAR ON TERRORISM (Chicago: Open Court, 2005). Still desiring to understand the morality of terrorism more deeply, I completed a book-length philosophical analysis of the conflict in Northern Ireland, entitled THE PROVISIONAL IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY AND THE MORALITY OF TERRORISM (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009).
Finally, for many years I’ve taught an undergraduate course called “Philosophy and Film.” A few years ago I was struck by the great number of deep philosophical issues that arise in Ridley Scott’s fantastic sci-fi film, Blade Runner (1982) that had apparently gone unnoticed by most viewers and even by most philosophers. So I decided to explore these issues in depth. The result is PHILOSOPHY AND BLADE RUNNER (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) —- released on June 25 — thirty-two years to the day after Blade Runner first hit US theaters. Check it out!


Present Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University Department of Philosophy


Research Interests