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Scholarly Interest Report
Gwendolyn Bradford
Associate Professor
Associate Professor of Philosophy
  • Ph. D. Philosophy (2010) Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • B. A. Hons. Philosophy (2003) University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • M. A. Philosophy (2006) Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • M. Phil Philosophy (2008) Yale University, New Haven, CT
Primary Department
   Department of Philosophy
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Research Areas
 Moral philosophy (value theory, normative ethics)

Current Objectives and Projects:  Achievement, Perfectionism, and Uniqueness


My research is in value theory, namely, the subfield of philosophy that asks question about what is good and why. My long-standing central project concerns the nature and value of achievement.  Almost everyone considers achievements to play a role – even a central one – in the best kind of human life.  Indeed, most people think that achievements are of such importance that they are worth pursuing at the expense of serious sacrifices. Yet, for all that, there is virtually no work in the philosophical literature longer than a few short passages devoted to discerning what makes achievements valuable, or even what makes something an achievement at all.           

These questions are one of the central areas of my research, and are addressed in several papers and a book, Achievement (Oxford University Press, 2015). 

According to the view I develop, achievements involve a difficult process that competently causes its product.  These two components – difficulty and competent causation – on their own have very little value, and so I establish that achievements are Moorean organic unities:  that is, the value of achievements is greater than the sum of the values of their individual components.  Further, the value of achievements as organic unities is best accounted for by a new strand of perfectionist theory of value.

Perfectionist value theory is another main area of active research for me.  In recent work, I articulate some of the most serious objections to perfectionist value theory that have yet to be addressed by perfectionists in the literature. For example, perfectionist accounts have particular difficulty accounting for bads such as pain – our good is the excellent exercise of central capacities, but how can perfectionism account for faring badly, when it traditionally only accounts for privation of good and not robust bads? If not perfectionism, how can we best explain badness?

My new main project goes in a different direction in uncharted territory: uniqueness. What is uniqueness and why does it matter? Uniqueness has played a starring role in initiating a shift in value theory the conception of intrinsic value. But, as my new work explores, it turns out that the role that uniqueness plays in value is much more complex than we originally thought.



Teaching Areas
 History of moral philosophy; epistemology; ancient philosophy; applied ethics; metaethics
Selected Publications
 Refereed articles

Bradford, Gwen "Problems for Perfectionism." Utilitas, 29 (2017) : 344-364.


Bradford, Gwen "Achievement, Wellbeing, and Value." Blackwell Philosophy Compass, 11 (2016) : 795-803.


Bradford, Gwen "Problems for Perfectionism." UtilitasIn Press


Bradford, Gwen. "Knowledge, Achievement, and Manifestation." Erkenntnis (2014) : 1-20.In Press

Bradford, Gwen. "The Value of Achievements." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2013): 204-224.


Bradford, Gwen. "Evil Achievements" The Philosophers’ Magazine 2012 (59): 51-56.


Bradford, Gwen. "Achievement."  (2015)

 Book chapters

Bradford, Gwen "Hard to Know." Responsibility: The Epistemic Condition (2017) : 180-19811.


Bradford, Gwen "Perfectionism." Routledge Handbook for the Philosophy of Well-Being (2016) : 124-134.


Bradford, Gwen and Simon Keller "Well-Being and Achievement." Routledge Handbook for the Philosophy of Well-Being (2016) : 271-280.


Bradford, Gwen.  "Evil Achievements and the Principle of Recursion" Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics vol. 3.  Oxford University Press (2014).

 Book reviews

Bradford, Gwen. "Fred Feldman, What is this thing called happiness?" The Journal of Value Inquiry (2012): 269-273.


Bradford, Gwen. "Review of Thomas Hurka, The Best Things in Life." Journal of Value Inquiry. (November 2011)


Bradford, Gwen. "Review of Thomas Hurka, Drawing Morals." Notre Dame Philosophical Review (November 20 2011)


Bradford, Gwen "Achievement." PhilosopHer


Bradford, Gwen. "Motive Utilitarianism" Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism ed. James E. Crimmins.  (2013)

 Conference Paper

"“Uniqueness, Intrinsic Value, and Reasons”." Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, Boulder, CO. (August)


"“Uniqueness, Intrinsic Value, and Reasons”." Canadian Philosophical Association, Toronto, ON. (May)


"A Brief History of Perfectionist Bads." Perfectionism: Ancient and Modern, University of California San Diego, (November)


""The Badness of Pain"." Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, University of Colorado, Boulder. (August)

 Invited Papers

""The Bad in Perfectionism"." University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland. (December)


"“Uniqueness, Intrinsic Value, and Reasons”." Kasas Workshop on Well-Being, Lawrence, KS. (July)


""Achievement and the Meaning of Life"." APA Central, St. Louis. (February)


""Hard to Know"." Responsibility - The Epistemic Dimension, VU University, Amsterdam. (July)


""Pain and Perfectionism"." Wellbeing Conference, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. (July)


""Reliability and Virtue Epistemology"." Penn Reasons and Foundations in Epistemology Conference, University of Pennsylvania. (November)

 Invited Talks

""The Badness of Pain"." UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barabara, CA. (March)


""The Badness of Pain"." Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. (December)


"“The Good in the Pursuit of the Bad”." APA Pacific, Seattle, WA. (April)


"The Badness of Pain." University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario. (January )


"The Badness of Pain." University of Delaware. (September)


"The Badness of Pain." Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. (September)


"The Badness of Pain." University of Missouri. (May)


""The Badness of Pain"." University of California, San Diego. (November )


""Uniqueness"." University of Alabama, Huntsville. (March)


"Evil Achievements andthe Principle of Recursion." Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX. (February 2012)


"Problems for Perfectionism." University of Houston, Houston, TX. (April 2013)


"Problems for Perfectionism." University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS. (November 2012)


"Uniqueness." Tulane University Philosophy Club, New Orleans, LA. (November 2013)


"Difficulty." Rice University. (February, 2010)


"Difficulty." Northern Illinois University. (February, 2010)


"Difficulty." University of Floriday. (February, 2010)


"Achievement." Young Philosophers Lecture Series, Prindle Institute , DePauw University. (September)


"Achievement." Ethical Inquiry Lecture Series, Brown University. (February)


"Achievement." Lone Star Book Symposium, Houston. (April)


"Uniqueness, Intrinsic Value, and Reasons." Young Philosophers Lecture Series, Prindle Institute, DePauw University. (September)


"Problems for Perfectionism." Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, Boulder, CO. (August 2012)


"The Value of Achievements." Canadian Philosophical Association, University of Waterloo. (May 2012)


""Evil Achievements and the Principle of Recursion"." Canadian Philosophical Association, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. (May 2011)


""Achievement" Author-meets-critics." Canadian Philosophical Association, Calgary, AB. (May)


""Achievement" Author-meets-critics

 ." APA Pacific, San Francisco. (March)


"Comments on Anthony Skelton and Lisa Forsberg, “The Argument from Achievement and the Permissibility of Biomedical Enhancement"." Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, University of Colorado, Boulder. (August)


""Being a Sports Fan: Paradox, Recursion, and Intrinsic Value"." American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, Washington, DC. (December 2011)


"Achievement." Wellbeing Development Workshop, Costa Rica. (June)


"Achievement." Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania. (December)


"Qualitative Uniqueness." New Orleans Invitational Seminar in Ethics, New Orleans. (March)


"The Badness of Pain." Syracuse Annual Workshop and Network, Syracuse University. (July)


""The Badness of Pain"." Kansas Wellbeing Workshop, University of Kansas. (July)


"Evil Achievements and the Principle of Recursion." Arizona Normative Ethics Workshop, Tuscon, AZ. (Janurary 2012)

Editorial Positions
 Other, Philpapers.org. (2015 - 2015)

Supervised Theses & Dissertations
 Page Summerhill Robinson, BA "The Role of Socialization in Developing the Ethical Subject". (2011) (Thesis Committee Member)

 Summer Henderson, MA "Feminist Interpretations of the Home and the Practice of Dwelling". (2011) (Thesis Committee Member)

 Dustin Tune, PHD In Defense of Sufficiency as the Distributive Ideal for Political Power. (2012) (Thesis Committee Member)

 Renee Dudley, BA "Steroids, Technology, and Sport: Ethical Systems Held by Rice University Division I Athletes Concerning Performance Enhancing Substances". (2012) (Thesis Committee Member)

 Allyson Arias, BA The Market and Distributive Injustice. (2015) (Thesis Director)

Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
 American Philosophical Association Book Prize, (2017)

 Faculty Fellow, Center for Ethics and Public Affairs - Murphy Institute - Tulane University (2013-2014)