a simple headshot-style picture of Gwen Bradford, smiling

WEBSITE(S)| bradford.rice.edu

The central focus of my research investigates the nature of achievements, and what makes them valuable. Achievements are typically acknowledged as significant on “objective list” theories of value, but in spite of such widespread acknowledgement of the importance of achievements, there is virtually no philosophical literature devoted to the rigorous investigation of just what achievements are, or why they are valuable. My research is focused on these questions: developing an account of the nature of achievements and accounting for their value, and pursuing related issues, such as the nature of difficulty and effort, and also certain issues in epistemology.

More generally, my interests are in value theory – particularly in the following issues: the nature of intrinsic value, happiness and well-being, and perfectionism – as well as normative ethics, the history of moral philosophy, and epistemology. Other favorite topics to puzzle about are the meaning of life, and the nature and value of games.

I work in value theory and normative ethics. In 2013-2014 I was a Faculty Fellow at the Murphy Institute at Tulane University. I did my graduate work at Yale University, where Shelly Kagan was my primary advisor. Before that, I was an undergraduate at The University of Toronto.

My book, Achievement, which is about the nature and value of achievement (as you might have guessed), is now available from Oxford University Press, or on Amazon.

I also work on perfectionism, the theory of value that holds that the excellent exercise of our characteristically human capacities is intrinsically good. I’m particularly interested in ill-being — the opposite of well-being — and how perfectionism (or any theory, for that matter) might account for it. I’m also at work on a project about uniqueness and its relationship to intrinsic value. My work also extends to nature of intrinsic value, organic unities, well-being, moral responsibility, philosophy of sport, and issues in epistemology.

Please look at the Research page for some current papers and other work.

In my spare time, I like to run, which is a helpful hobby for encouraging philosophical reflections on achievement and difficulty. Since moving to Houston, I’ve become a fan of many of the marvelous arts organizations here, such as the Houston Grand Opera, and the Menil Collection, as well as Hermann Park.

Selected upcoming and recent presentations:

April 2017: “Achievement and the Pursuit of the Bad,” Invited Panel, Pacific APA, Seattle

November 2016: “History of Perfectionist Bads,” Perfectionism: Ancient and Modern conference, UCSD

September 2016: “The Badness of Pain,” University of Delaware

September 2016: “The Badness of Pain,” Virginia Tech, VA

September 2016: “Achievement,” and “Uniqueness, Intrinsic Value, and Reasons,” Young Philosophers Lecture Series, Prindle Institute, DePauw University, IN

July 2016: “Achievement,” Wellbeing Development Workshop, Costa Rica

July 2016: “The Badness of Pain,” SPAWN, Syracuse University

May 2016: “The Badness of Pain,” University of Missouri

May 2016: Author-meets-critics session, Achievement, Canadian Philosophical Association, Calgary AB

April 2016: “Achievement,” Lone Star College Book Symposium, Houston TX

March 2016: Author-meets-critics session, Achievement, APA Pacific, San Francisco

February 2016: “Achievement,” Brown University

January 2016: “The Badness of Pain,” University of Toronto

November 2015: “The Badness of Pain,” University of California San Diego

November 2015: “Virtue Epistemology and Reliability,” University of Pennsylvania

August 2015: “The Badness of Pain,” Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

July 2015: “The Badness of Pain,” Kansas Well-being Workshop, University of Kansas

July 2015: “Pain and Perfectionism,” Hebrew University

May 2015: “Hard to Know,” Responsibility – The Epistemic Condition Workshop, VU University Amsterdam

March 2015: “Uniqueness,” University of Alabama Huntsville

February 2015: “Achievement and the Meaning of Life,” APA Central, St. Louis

August 2014: “Uniqueness,” Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, Boulder, CO

July 2014: “Pain and Perfectionism,” Kansas Well-Being Workshop, University of Kansas

April 2014: “Difficulty and Degrees of Praise and Blame,” Pacific APA, San Diego, CA

March 2014: “Pain and Perfectionism,” University of New Orleans Tocqueville Project Seminar, New Orleans, LA

February 2014: “Uniqueness,” Works in Progress at MIT, Cambridge, MA

January 2014: “Pain and Perfectionism,” Murphy Institute, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

December 2013: “Problems for Perfectionism,” Eastern APA, Baltimore, MD

November 2013: “Uniqueness,” Tulane Philosophy Club, New Orleans, LA

September 2013: “Being a Sports Fan: Paradox, Recursion, and Intrinsic Value,” IAPS, Fullerton, CA

April 2013: “Problems for Perfectionism,” University of Houston, TX

April 2013: “The Ethics of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports,” Community Dialogue, Rice University

February 2013: Symposium on Wellbeing, Central APA, New Orleans, LA

November 2012: “Problems for Perfectionism,” University of Mississippi, MS

August 2012: “Problems for Perfectionism,” Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

May 2012: “The Value of Achievements,” Canadian Philosophical Association, University of Waterloo, Ontario

February 2012: “Evil Achievements and the Principle of Recursion,” SMU, Dallas, TX

January 2012: “Evil Achievements and the Principle of Recursion,” Arizona Normative Ethics Workshop, Tucson, AZ

Curriculum Vitae