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Angela Smith Named First Director of W&L’s Mudd Center for Ethics, First Mudd Professor of Ethics

Angela M. Smith, associate professor of philosophy at Washington and Lee University, has been named the first Roger Mudd Professor of Ethics and the first director of the University’s new Roger Mudd Center for Ethics.

Robert Strong, interim provost and chair of the search committee, announced Smith’s appointment, which is effective July 1.

“Angie Smith is an accomplished teacher and scholar who, in her short time at Washington and Lee, has earned the respect of students and colleagues across campus,” said Strong. “She team-teaches a course on the ethics of globalization, and her research is admired by leading philosophers for its clarity, sophistication and originality. She is ideally suited to lead a new interdisciplinary center that will encourage and enhance serious study and conversation on a wide variety of ethical issues.”

The Mudd Center was established through a gift to the University from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. When he made his gift, Mudd said that “given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is its fitting home.”

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be the first director of the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics,” said Smith. “I think that we have an opportunity with this center to do something really special, and this stems from the fact that Washington and Lee itself is a rather unique place for the study of ethics. W&L has a long tradition of combining liberal arts education with professional and pre-professional training. This gives us a real opportunity to bring together all these disparate disciplines to study ethics in a very rich, interdisciplinary way.”

The Mudd Center will be a resource for students and faculty on campus and at all three schools – The College, the School of Law, and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.  It will support faculty who wish to develop new courses to enhance the study of ethics across the curriculum, and will engage in programming that fosters serious and sophisticated conversation about public and professional ethics at the university.

Smith came to Washington and Lee in 2008 as a visiting associate professor of philosophy and a fellow in Society and the Professions, the program in applied ethics that has now been folded into the Mudd Center. She joined the faculty as associate professor the following year, after 10 years at the University of Washington where she was a tenured member of the philosophy department.

Smith’s research interests concern the connections between morality, moral agency, and moral responsibility. She has written extensively on the question of whether, and if so why, we are morally responsible for our attitudes – for our desires, emotions, beliefs, and other intentional mental states. Her more recent work has focused on the question whether we can morally owe it to other people to have particular attitudes toward them.  This work leads naturally into a number of important issues in legal and political philosophy, such as the justifiability of hate crimes legislation and the value of tolerance.

She is currently working on a book, tentatively entitled Attitude Matters: Responsibility, Respect, and Reconciliation, which will put forward a unified, systematic account of the importance of attitudes in moral life.  She is also working with two colleagues at the University of Arizona and Florida State University on an edited book entitled The Nature of Moral Responsibility, which is currently under contract with Oxford University Press.  Smith teaches courses ranging from Introduction to Ethics, to Free Will and Moral Responsibility, to The Ethics of War.

Smith has received a prestigious Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellowship at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values for 2013-14. The fellowship enables scholars to devote an academic year in residence at Princeton to research and write about topics involving human values in public and private life. Smith will work on her book during the fellowship.

Although she will be at Princeton during the upcoming academic year, there will be a major kickoff event for the Mudd Center in the fall or early winter.

A magna cum laude graduate of Willamette University, with majors in philosophy and political science, Smith received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459

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