New Faculty Profile: Bruno Guindon
Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Department of Philosophy is very pleased to welcome new faculty member Bruno Guindon as a lecturer this term. Bringing teaching experience from the University of British Columbia and McGill, Guindon returns as one of our philosophy alumni. He completed an MA in the department in 2008 before heading to McGill to complete a PhD in 2015.
Guindon’s primary areas of research are metaethics and normative ethics. This includes interests in normative questions related to the treatment of animals, the value of nature and justificatory appeals to conscience in health care.
In Conversation – Philosophers in their Own Words
You list your areas of interest as normativity, akrasia, and rationality – what are these and how do they apply in real life?
“All of these have crucial application in real life! I don’t think I’d be so concerned with them if they didn’t. The philosophy of normativity is the study of oughts or shoulds—or, more fundamentally, the study of reasons. For example, I think there’s good reason to believe that anthropogenic climate change is a very real phenomenon, and that fact is a good reason to take serious and direct steps to mitigate its effects. That is, I think we ought to believe what the science is telling us about our role in the current climate crisis, and that there are certain things that we ought to do in light of this."
"Having said that, the relation between normativity and rationality might seem obvious: many people—many philosophers, at least—think that what it is to be rational is to simply believe and act as one ought. I think that rationality, or being rational, is a special kind of cognitive achievement, but I don’t think things are quite as simple as that. Part of my work involves trying to explain what being rational amounts to, if not believing and acting as one ought."
"My interest in akrasia—or weakness of will—emerged from thinking about the nature of rationality. To be akratic is to fail to intend to do what you believe you ought to do. Many philosophers think that akrasia is a failure of rationality. I’m skeptical. I don’t think it’s irrational to fail to intend to do what one believes what one ought to do—at least not obviously. That’s not to say that I think there’s nothing wrong with being akratic: we definitely should not be akratic! But I don’t think akrasia is a rational failure. If hard pressed, I would say that akrasia is a moral failure.”