Jonathan Rick

Title | Organization: 
Job Candidate | Ph.D. in Philosophy

Currently, Jon Rick is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Toronto, where he teaches courses in Practical Reasoning, Moral Theory, Ancient Philosophy, and Critical Reasoning.  His areas of specialization and research interests include Moral, Political, and Social Philosophy and the History of these areas (particularly 18th century and onward).  Before coming to Toronto, Jon has held Visiting Professorships at Illinois Wesleyan University (2012-2013) and UNC-Chapel Hill (2009-2010), as well as a Core Lectureship in Philosophy at Columbia University (2010-2012).  At Illinois Wesleyan, Jon taught courses in Applied Ethics, the History of Political Philosophy, and the Intersections between Markets and Morality.  While at Columbia, his teaching duties included leading two concurrent sections of an academic-yearlong seminar in the history of Western moral, political, social, and religious thought, called Contemporary Civilization (CC).  Prior to this posting, Jon was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UNC-Chapel Hill where he taught courses in the Philosophy Department, which were affiliated with the joint UNC-Duke University Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.  In 2009, before heading to UNC, and with generous assistance from the Mellon Foundation’s American Council of Learned Societies National Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Jon successfully completed and defended his dissertation, entitled, From Partial Passions to Moral Sentiments: Taking Up Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator Perspective.  On October 21, 2009, his Ph.D. in Philosophy was conferred by Columbia University. 

Jon Rick's CV

Areas of Specialization: 

Moral and Political Philosophy; History of Early Modern Moral Philosophy

Areas of Competence: 

Metaethics; Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE); & Practical Reason


Jon's research projects are within the two main areas of Moral, Political, and Value Theory and the History of Moral and Political Philosophy.  Regarding the former area, he is pursuing projects concerning Reasonable Partiality and Moral Impartialism and Constructivism in Practical Reasoning.  Jon also has a research interests in the applied topics concerning the moral status of abortion, and the value of cost-benefit analysis when applied to distributional policies in healthcare and climate change response.  His primary research project in the history of philosophy has to do with reconceiving and recapturing Adam Smith’s ethical-political-economic project from modern trends of its reception (particularly by economists and political theorists), which locate Smith as the forbearer of neoconservative economics and socio-political theory. He also has ongoing projects dealing with Hume's moral psychology and Rousseau's social theory.

Articles / Publications: 

“Can We Fail to Apply Moral Rules Impartially?” After developing a requirement of impartiality, this paper asks whether there is a genuine, non-redundant requirement to follow moral rules impartially.  Surprisingly, it appears that there is not; however, this paper argues that these appearances are misleading (Under Review at The American Philosophical Quarterly)

“Forced to be Free?” Proceedings of the 17th Annual Association for Core Texts and Courses Conference, (Autumn 2013). [Peer-Reviewed]

“Hume’s and Smith’s Partial Sympathies and Impartial Stances,” Journal of Scottish Philosophy, Vol. 5.2  (October 2007). [Peer-Reviewed]

“Review of Terence Irwin’s The Development of Ethics: A Historical and Critical Study, Part 6o on Adam Smith,” The Philosophical Forum, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Fall 2011). [Peer-Reviewed]

“Adam Smith: Historical Biography and Exploration of Central Themes in the Wealth of Nations,” Center for the Core Curriculum: Exploration of the Literature, accessible at (January, 2012).

“Thomas Hobbes: Historical Biography and Exploration of Central Themes in the Leviathan,” Center for the Core Curriculum: Exploration of the Literature, accessible at (September, 2011).

“The Benign and Morally Efficacious Amour-Propre of the Impartial Spectator,” This paper offers a novel reconstruction of Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator model of moral judgment, borrowing underappreciated resources from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s moral psychological principle of Amour-Propre (the drive for recognition).  It argues that Smith and Rousseau’s theories, though ostensibly oppositional, are actually mutually reinforcing.

“Defending Ambitious Metanormative Constructivism,” This paper mounts a defense of Humean Constructivism through appeal to the irreducible normativity of reasons (as opposed to the normativity of rational requirements)(Fall 2013).

“How Adam Smith Learned from a Credit Crisis and What We can Learn from Smith,” This paper examines how Smith revised his conclusions concerning financial regulation in The Wealth of Nations as a result of his engagement with a series of 18th century credit and banking crises (most notably the Ayr Bank crisis).  Beyond re-claiming Smith from grip of extreme deregulation theorists, this paper argues that Smith’s sensitivity towards theory-revision in the face of contrary evidence itself provides a worthwhile methodology for contemporary economists and political theorists (Fall 2013).

“A Spontaneous Defense of Abortion: Revisiting Marquis,” This paper critically revisits Marquis’s Future Like Ours argument and shows that despite its purported obviation of the difficulties arising from having to determine the personhood of the fetus, these difficulties remain.  Marquis’s own strategy for defending the moral permissibility of contraception provides the resources for his own undoing (Fall 2013).

“Justice on Hume’s Own and Non-Circular Terms,” This paper reconstructs Hume’s argument for the origins and motivational efficacy of the virtue of justice both in a manner that avoids the apparent circularity afflicting his argument and (contrary to other reconstructive attempts) in terms that fit consistently with Hume’s considered theory of moral judgment (Fall 2013).