Dr. Rory O’Connell

Areas of specialization:

Ethics, Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Action

Areas of competence:

Ancient Philosophy, Kant


Personal website

My research is devoted to articulating a systematic conception of human agency, at the centre of which is the concept of practical reason. Animating my research is the thought that an adequate conception of human agency must explain the essential unity of practical thought—specifically, the unity of instrumental or ‘means-end’ rationality and ethical life. Consequently, my research interests lie primarily in the philosophy of action, ethics, and the philosophy of mind. I also have a long-standing interest in the history of philosophy—primarily in those figures (e.g., Aristotle and Kant) whose insights can be enlisted in the task of illuminating the character of practical rationality today

I completed my Phd. at The University of Chicago in 2018, where I then served as a Humanities Teaching Fellow. Before my Phd., I received a BA and MPhil at King’s College London


‘Two Conceptions of Instrumental Thought’, forthcoming in The Philosophical Quarterly

‘Against the Possibility of a Merely Instrumentally Rational Agent’ in Practical Reason in Historical and Systematic Perspective, eds. J. Conant and D. Ometto

 “I Do What Happens”: The Productive Character of Practical Knowledge. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 50(5), 670-686. doi:10.1017/can.2020.12