Brian J. Collins

Brian J. Collins, Ph.D.

Associate Professor



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.


The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Degree: Ph.D. (July 2014); M.A. (2012) 

Dissertation Title: A Utilitarian Account of Political Obligation

Committee: Diane Jeske (Advisor), Richard Fumerton (Advisor), Jovana Davidovic, Ali Hasan, David Cunning

California State University Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA

Degree: Elementary and Middle School Teaching Certificate (2007)

St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Degree: B.A. (2006)

Majors: Philosophy, Psychology



“The Social Media Commons: Public Sphere, Agonism, and Algorithmic Obligation,” Journal of Information Technology and Politics, 2020. (written with Jose Marichal & Richard Neve)

“The Broad Nature and Importance of Public Philosophy,” Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice, 2020.

“‘The National Anthem’ and Weighing Moral Obligations: Is It Ever OK to F*ck a Pig?” Black Mirror and Philosophy, David Kyle Johnson (ed.), 2020. (“public philosophy”)

“The Value of Philosophy at Any Age!” Ventura County Reporter, July 2019 (“public philosophy”) 

“A Political Interpretation of Aristotle’s Ethics,” Aristotle’s Practical Philosophy: On the Relationship between the Ethics and Politics, Cohen de Lara and Brouwer (eds.), 2017. 

“Obligations, Responsibility, and Whistleblowing: A Case Study of Jeffrey Wigand and Brown & Williamson,” Business in Ethical Focus (2nd Edition), Allhoff, Sager, and Vaidya (eds.), 2017.
(also reprinted in Business Cases in Ethical Focus, Allhoff and Sager [eds.], 2019)

“Adding Substance to the Debate: Descartes on Freedom of the Will,” Essays In Philosophy, Volume 14, Issue 2, July 2013. (special issue on Cartesian Virtue and Freedom)

“A Unique Metaphysical Problem for Moral Realism,” Southwest Philosophy Review, Volume 29, Number 1, January 2013.

“What Does Spinoza Prescribe?” Proceedings of the Southeast Philosophy Congress, Volume 4, 2011.