Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

Thomas L. Carson

Philosophy Department
Loyola University Chicago
1032 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660

Contact Information:
Office: Crown Center, 3rd floor
Lake Shore Campus
Phone: 773.508.2729
Fax: 773.508.2292
E-mail: tcarson@luc.edu
Personal Web Page:

Thomas L. Carson is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He taught previously at Virginia Tech (1977-1985) and UCLA (1976). He held an NEH Fellowship during 1980-81. Carson graduated from Saint Olaf College in 1972 and received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Brown University in 1977. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the concept of happiness.

Carson's teaching and research are in the general area of ethics. His book The Status of Morality (Reidel, 1984) discusses the foundations of ethics and defends a version of the ideal observer theory. His book Value and the Good Life (Notre Dame, 2000) addresses the nature of a good life and defends the rational desire satisfaction theory of value. It also argues that the most plausible version of this theory is the divine preference theory of value.  His recent book, Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010) combines his work on ethical theory and business and professional ethics. His book Lincoln's Ethics is under contract with Cambridge University Press.

Carson has also co-edited (with Paul Moser) two anthologies: Morality and the Good Life (Oxford, 1997), and Moral Relativism (Oxford, 2001). He has published papers on utilitarianism, the concept of happiness, metaethics, ethical relativism, W.D. Ross, Rawls, God and morality, Kant's Perpetual Peace, and Nietzsche. Carson has written many papers on business ethics dealing with such topics as bluffing, deception in advertising, bribery, corporate social responsibility, conflicts of interest, and sales. Carson's papers have appeared in Philosophy & Public Affairs, Mind, Noûs, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, Religious Studies, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Business Ethics Quarterly, Erkenntnis, Theoria, Encyclopedia of Ethics, The MacMillian Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed., The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics, The Blackwell Companion to Business Ethics, and The Philosophy of Deception

His major research interests at present are Lincoln's ethics, metaethics, and morality and religion. Carson works mainly in the Anglo-American tradition, but he has serious interests in continental philosophy, particularly Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Scheler, and Brentano.

Carson has a life-long interest in history and makes extensive use of historical examples in his book on lying and deception.  One of the chapters of this book discusses cases of political leaders who told lies or engaged in lying and deception in order to justify wars (or in order to avoid wars).  Another chapter discusses cases in which lying and deception about the historical record created or aggravated conflicts between peoples.  Carson is also making use of his historical interests in his book on Lincoln's Ethics.

Carson is a member of the editorial board of the Public Affairs Quarterly and was previously a member of the editorial boards of American Philosophical Quarterly, Journal of Happiness Studies and Business Ethics Quarterly.

In addition to his philosophical work, Carson is a train enthusiast and has published articles on baseball history. He is a Chicago native and a passionate, but despairing, Cubs fan. Carson is married and has two children.

Back to Full-Time Faculty