Ruth Chang

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Ruth Chang
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic philosophy
Institutions Rutgers University
Main interests
Normative ethics, metaethics, action theory, moral psychology

Ruth Chang is an American professor of philosophy at Rutgers University,[2] 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 Navy, World Bank, and CIA.[5][6] In January 2019, she will become Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford.[7]

Education and career[edit]

Chang graduated from Dartmouth College in 1985 with a B.A. in philosophy.[2] In 1988, she graduated from Harvard Law School with a J.D.[2] In 1991, she was appointed a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, where she completed her D. Phil. in 1997 after two year-long visiting appointments at UCLA and the University of Chicago Law School.[2] She also lectured at several of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in this time period. She became an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University in 1998, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2004, and to Professor in 2014.

Chang has received a number of fellowship awards including at the National Humanities Center[8] and the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at the Kennedy School of Government.[9] She was also a Laurence S. Rockefeller Fellow at the Princeton University Center for Human Values,[10] a Charles K. Ryskamp Fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies,[11] and a Nicholas Berggruen Fellow at the Stanford University Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.[12] She was a Scot's Centenary Fellow in Scotland, which involved a lecture tour around Scotland.[13] She has also won a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award [14] and an American Philosophical Association Op-ed Prize.[15]

In January 2019, she will become Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford.[7]

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 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] Her work develops a view of rational agency, 'hybrid voluntarism', that grows out of her interest in the underdetermination of values and their associated reasons according to which agents can create reasons and values through commitment.[16] She has also written on value pluralism and social choice.[2] 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,[17] and has authored numerous articles and book chapters.

She 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.[18] Her TED talk on the subject has had over 6.5 million views,[6] and her ideas have been presented in many popular publications.[19]

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". NewApps. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Chang, Ruth". Rutgers. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  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. ^ See e.g.: 2-part radio interview with "Eye on China", English service Radio Taiwan International, by Natalie Tso, Program Host at and; Nova Magazine, (Brazil) December issue, 2014, pp. 76-79; Chicago Tribune, by Jessica Reynolds, October 8, 2014 at; Open House (Australia) at; ; Radio Kaffeehaus (Austria) at Archived 2014-11-10 at the Wayback Machine.; D Magazine (Italy) at; Globes Newspaper (Israel) November 27, 2014 at; 3a.m. Magazine (United Kingdom) at;NPR Archived 2017-12-23 at the Wayback Machine. at
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "National Humanities Center 2009-10 Fellows and Their Projects". National Humanities Center. Archived from the original on 2009-09-21. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
  9. ^ "Faculty Fellows". Harvard University. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Previous Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellows". Princeton University. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  11. ^ ACLS archives for Charles Ryskamp Fellowships, 2002-3
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Muehlhauser, Luke. "CPBD 021: Ruth Chang – What is Morality?". Common Sense Atheism. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  17. ^ Arpaly, Nomy (October 2000). "Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reason". Mind. New Series. 109 (436): 864–866.
  18. ^ See fn. 5.
  19. ^ New York Times Op-Ed: 'Resolving to Create a New You'; Chicago Tribune: by Jessica Reynolds, October 8, 2014 at; Marie Claire: "That's What She Said: Straight talk Worth Repeating from some of our Favorite Women", in 20th Anniversary issue of Marie Claire, September issue 2014, p. 96; Cosmpolitan: "Five talks by amazing women to give you megamotivation in 2015", December 16, 2014

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