Ruth Chang

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Ruth Chang
Ruth Chang.jpg
Ruth Chang at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics in 2016
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
InstitutionsRutgers University
University College, Oxford
Main interests
Normative ethics, metaethics, action theory, moral psychology

Ruth Chang is the Professor and Chair of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford,[2] a Professorial Fellow of University College, Oxford, and an American professor of philosophy. She is known for her research on the incommensurability of values and on practical reason and normativity.[3][4] She is also widely known for her work on decision-making and is lecturer or consultant on choice at institutions ranging from video-gaming to pharmaceuticals, the U.S. Navy, World Bank, and CIA.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] Although her work is international, she spends about half her time in New York.[citation needed]

Education and career[edit]

Chang has a B.A. degree from Dartmouth College, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. At the beginning of her graduate work at Oxford in 1991, she was appointed a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, during which she also held visiting appointments at the UCLA philosophy department and the University of Chicago Law School. Prior to joining Oxford as the Professor of Jurisprudence in 2019, she was a Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University in the United States.

Chang was a Nicolas Berggruen Fellow at the Stanford University Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.[15] and has received a number of fellowship awards including at the National Humanities Center,[16] the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at the Kennedy School of Government,[17] the Princeton University Center for Human Values,[18] and the American Council of Learned Societies.[19] She was a Scot's Centenary Fellow in Scotland, which involved a lecture tour around Scotland.[20] Her work has been recognized by a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award and an American Philosophical Association Op-ed Prize.[21]

Chang at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Philosophical work[edit]

Chang's principal research interests lie in normative ethics, metaethics, action theory and moral psychology. Her work focuses on practical conflict, the nature of reasons and values and their relations, and rational agency. She is known for arguing that the structure of value is not what is commonly assumed: like space and time, which is not structured as we think it is, the normative and evaluative realm is not structured as we think it is. In particular, she is known for arguing that two items which are neither better nor worse than one another and yet not equally good may nevertheless be comparable: they may be 'on a par'.[1][3] If correct, her view has wide-ranging implications for axiology, normative theory, decision theory, economic choice theory, and rationality. Her work also develops a view of rational agency, 'hybrid voluntarism', according to which rational agents are not merely discoverers of reasons but creators of them through the activity of commitment.[22] She has also written on value pluralism and social choice. She has given various public lectures on decision-making, love, and commitment.

Chang is the author of Making Comparisons Count, and the editor of the first volume on the topic of incommensurability of values in the Anglo-American world, Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reason,[23] and has authored numerous articles and book chapters.

Ruth Chang is also widely known for her work on 'hard choices' and decision-making, and her research has been the subject of radio, newspaper, and magazine articles around the world.[24] Her TED talk on the subject has had over 7 million views,[14] and her ideas have been presented in many popular publications.[25][7][26]

Selected works[edit]

  • Incommensurability, Incomparability and Practical Reason (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997) ISBN 978-0674447561
  • Making Comparisons Count (New York: Routledge, 2001), Studies in Ethics, series editor, Robert Nozick. ISBN 978-0815337829
  • "The Possibility of Parity" 112 Ethics July 2002, pp. 659–88.
  • "All Things Considered" 18 Philosophical Perspectives, December 2004, pp. 1–22
  • "Voluntarist Reasons and the Sources of Normativity", Reasons for Action eds., Sobel and Wall, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 243–71
  • "Commitments, Reasons, and the Will", in Shafer-Landau, ed., Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 8, 2013
  • "Grounding Practical Normativity: Going Hybrid", Philosophical Studies, 2013


  1. ^ a b Protevi, John. "New APPS Interview: Ruth Chang". Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Ruth Chang appointed Professor of Jurisprudence". UK: Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b Hsieh, Nien-hê. "Incommensurable Values". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  4. ^ Schroeder, Mark. "Value Theory". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Programs - Decisions, decisions..." RTI Radio Taiwan International. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Programs - How to Make Hard Choices". RTI Radio Taiwan International. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b "A philosopher's guide to decision-making: First, trust yourself". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Radio Coffeehouse - Home". 10 November 2014. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Le decisioni difficili sono un'opportunità". 11 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  10. ^ "איך מקבלים החלטות קשות ולמה חשיבה כלכלית לא תעזור לכם". 27 November 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  11. ^ "the existentialist of hard choices -". 4 April 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  12. ^ "the existentialist of hard choices - 3:AM Magazine". 23 December 2017. Archived from the original on 23 December 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Ruth Chang: How Can Making Hard Choices Empower Us?". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  14. ^ a b Chang, Ruth. "How to make hard choices". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  15. ^ "CASBS Announces Class of 2016-17 - Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  16. ^ "National Humanities Center 2009-10 Fellows and Their Projects". National Humanities Center. Archived from the original on 2009-09-21. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
  17. ^ "Faculty Fellows". Harvard University. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  18. ^ "Previous Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellows - University Center for Human Values". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  19. ^ ACLS archives for Charles Ryskamp Fellowships, 2002-3
  20. ^ "Centenary Fellowship – Scots Philosophical Association". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest - The American Philosophical Association". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  22. ^ Muehlhauser, Luke. "CPBD 021: Ruth Chang – What is Morality?". Common Sense Atheism. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  23. ^ Arpaly, Nomy (October 2000). "Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reason". Mind. New Series. 109 (436): 864–866.
  24. ^ See fn. 5.
  25. ^ Chang, Ruth (3 January 2015). "Opinion - Resolving to Create a New You". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  26. ^ Jones, Eleanor (16 December 2014). "5 TED talks by amazing women to give you mega motivation for 2015". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 3 February 2019.

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