David A Merli Associate Professor of Philosophy


B.A., State University of New York College at Geneseo, 1994

M.A., The Ohio State University, 1999

PhD, The Ohio State University, 2003

Dissertation: Moral Disagreement and Shared Meaning (Justin D'Arms and Don Hubin, co-advisors)

More About Professor Merli


"Return to Moral Twin Earth," Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 32 (2002), 207-240.

"Moral convergence and the univocity problem," American Philosophical Quarterly 44:4 (2007) 291-314.

"Expressivism and the limits of moral disagreement," Journal of Ethics 12 (2008) 25-55.

"Possessing moral concepts," forthcoming in Philosophia.


Center for History, Society, and Culture, UC Davis (April 2009).  "Moral knowledge, disagreement, and meaning."

Society for Christian Philosophers (February 2009).  Comments on Alvin Plantinga, "Naturalism, theism, obligation, and supervenience."

Alabama Philosophical Society (September 2008).   "Moral knowledge, concepts, and contingency."

Course Information

PHI220: Moral Theory: This course is designed to introduce students to some of the core texts in the history of moral philosophy and to some interesting contemporary debates.  The central questions concern the objectivity and authority of morality, the relationship between different kinds of value, and what morality asks of us. 

PHI223: Biomedical Ethics: Medical practice presents us with many serious ethical questions.  What sorts of medical procedures are morally permissible?  What are the ethical limits of medical research?  What ideals should inform doctor-patient relationships?   Who, if anyone, has a right to health care?  This course will examine these and other issues.  In investigating these problems, we’ll look at some of the underlying theoretical disagreements that make them so difficult. 

PHI320: Normative Ethics: Survey of theories of right and wrong action, including examination of related questions concerning the good, well-being, obligation, etc. Literature will include defenses and criticisms of consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics. 

PHI321: Meta-ethics: Moral discourse presents us with a puzzle: how, if at all, does our evaluative talk fit into the world?  And how should the answer to this question affect our view of moral thought and discussion?  Metaethics attempts to answer these and related questions by examining the metaphysics, epistemology, and semantics of our moralizing.  It is an attempt to abstract from our most important normative practices in order to theorize about them.  This course attempts to trace the last century’s most significant meta-ethical disputes, in particular, the debates over cognitivism and realism.