Tony Cunningham, Ph.D.

Unlike the great philosophers of the really olden days, I didn’t grow up wanting to be a philosopher. As a boy, I wanted to be a superhero. When that didn’t pan out, I switched to professional baseball. While pursuing this dream and studying biology at Colby College, two beloved philosophy teachers captivated me. Off I went to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, and there I realized that I was mostly interested in ethics in some form. By the time I arrived at St. John’s in 1991 after wonderful stints at the College of William & Mary and Colby, I saw that I was destined for “messy” ethics. I’m an “anti-theory" fellow, and this helps explain my deep interest in literature. Good stories can best capture the subtle, conflicting, slippery elements of human life and character. All sorts of things matter to us, and contrary to what most ethical theories suggest, the things that matter share no common denominator and admit of no canonical ordering.  We’re really complicated creatures, so moral philosophers worth their salt must pursue the (impossible) goal of being people on whom nothing is lost. Everything I teach has to do with ethics in one way or another. When I’m not teaching or doing philosophy, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Mickey, and daughters, Flann and Maddie. I love the outdoors, particularly oceans and mountains. I play a wild fiddle with five strings on top and five sympathetic understrings, and I also write fiction.  Born in New York City, the child of Irish immigrants, I actually like to pretend I’m from Maine.  My philosophical publications include The Heart of What Matters: The Role for Literature in Moral Philosophy (California, 2001), Modern Honor: A Philosophical Defense (Routledge, 2013), and various essays and reviews in journals like American Philosophical Quarterly, Journal of Value Inquiry, Dialogue, Mind, Philosophy & Phenomenological Research, Ethics, and The Dalhousie Review.  I have just completed a new manuscript, Believers & Unbelievers: How the Faithful & the Faithless Might Live Together in America, and I am in the process of revising a manuscript that examines what human beings need to live well, aside from the modicum of luck we all need.

Teaching & Research Interests: Ethics, Philosophy & Literature, Social & Political Philosophy

Schedule Fall 2014:
ETH390-09A Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Days: TR
Time: 2:20-3:40pm
Place: Quad 343
CRN #: 14218

ETH390-12A Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Reading for Life
Days: Mondays
Time: 6:15-9:15pm
Place: Quad 353
CRN #: 12609

ETH390-13A Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Reading for Life
Days: Tuesdays
Time: 6:15-9:15pm
Place: Quad 353
CRN #: 12566

Tony Cunningham

Office: Quad 351
Phone: 320-363-2730