Brian Collins, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Book this person as a speaker:

Phone: 805-493-3233


  • The Ethics of Following the Law
    One of the core issues in contemporary political philosophy is concerned with ‘political obligation.’ Stated in an overly simplified way, the question being asked when one investigates political obligation is, “What, if anything, do citizens owe to their government and how are these obligations generated if they do exist?” The majority of political philosophers investigating this issue agree that a political obligation is a moral requirement to act in certain ways concerning political matters (e.g. a moral requirement to obey the laws and support one’s country). Despite this agreement about the general nature of what is being searched for, a broad division has arisen between political obligation theorists - there are some who take political obligations to actually exist (“defenders of political obligation”) and there are some who take there to be no general political obligation (“philosophical anarchists ”). The primary goal of this talk is to respond to 1)discuss the ethical foundations for following the law and supporting one’s government/state, 2) present and evaluate the five primary theories of political obligation on offer, and 3) present and defend a Utilitarian account of political obligation.

  • A Brief Introduction to Food Ethics
    The primary goal of this talk is to briefly introduce the topic and field of "Food Ethics." That is, how people's food choices (this includes choices concerning producing, processing, distributing, and consuming) can cause better or worse outcomes for people, nonhuman animals, and/or the environment.

  • Corporate Responsibilities and Rights
    The primary goal of this talk is to briefly introduce the topic of ethics and corporate responsibilities and rights. That is, questions concerning the nature of a "corporation" and the types of responsibilities and rights this type of entity has (and *should* have).

received my Ph.D. and M.A. in Philosophy from The University of Iowa and my B.A. from St. Olaf College. My primary research interests are in Ethics and Political Philosophy with an emphasis on ‘political obligation’ and the intersection of ethical and political philosophical theories. This interest in Ethics and Political Philosophy also bleeds into my interests in the History of Early Modern and Ancient Philosophy. Within these areas I am particularly interested in the way which historical figures (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Bentham, Spinoza, Hume, Locke, Kant, etc.) have developed their ethical and political theories in accord with one another.

My teaching interests are as varied as my research interests, ranging over topics in Ethics and Political Philosophy, History (primarily Early Modern and Ancient), Applied Ethics (particularly Business, Environmental Ethics, and Restorative Justice), Existentialism, and Pre-College Philosophy.

When I am not focusing on my academic endeavors (teaching, writing, researching, etc.) I try to spend as much time as possible with my family enjoying activities outdoors (surfing, hiking, biking, camping, skiing, etc.), music, and food.