Photo of Owen

About me

I work with digital information. Preserving it, organizing it, and making sure it is used appropriately.

For a long time I focused on philosophy. But eventually I found my way back to practical aspects of information. I have been taking courses at the School of Information and Library Science at UNC Chapel Hill. I have worked with the State Archives of North Carolina on digital preservation, and the J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte on expanding access via linked open data.

Work in philosophy

I finished a PhD in philosophy at the Department of Philosophy of The Ohio State University in 2016, while I was a visiting member of the Department of Philosophy at Oberlin College. Then I spent a few years as a postdoc at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Twente, in the Netherlands. There I collaborated with the HR and Advanced Analytics teams at Ahold Delhaize, on ethical uses of data analytics to improve the well-being of employees.

Philosophy of well-being

My dissertation, supervised by Justin D'Arms, was called Three Kinds of Goodness for a Person. The aim of my dissertation and the ensuing articles, is to draw more careful distinctions between well-being and related normative categories such as domain-specific varieties of well-being and the goodness of a person's life on the whole.

Ethics of computing and information

Another strand of my philosophical research is information ethics, especially regarding automated prediction. I have focused on the ethics of artificial social cognition, i.e., ethical issues about the automated attribution and prediction of mental states (intentions, desires, beliefs). Such predictions have moral dimensions not encompassed by assessments of accuracy alone.

For details, see my article, "Presumptuous Aim Attribution, Conformity, and the Ethics of Artificial Social Cognition."

Teaching in philosophy and practical ethics

My most recent teaching role was at the Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics within the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. I designed a seminar called, "Data, Health, and Ethics: Topics at the Intersection."

While at the University of Twente, I contributed to undergraduate and PSTS graduate courses on the philosophy of technology. Before that, I spent three years teaching the philosophy courses to the highly engaged students of Oberlin College.

Back in 2013-2014, I conceived and created Ohio State University's new course on Computing Ethics (Philosophy 1337), and I received awards for excellent teaching.

Online identities

Access my philosophical research from my PhilPeople profile.

My ORCID ID is 0000-0002-5246-3037.

Connect with me via my LinkedIn profile.

Support for reproductive choice

I believe that people's bodily autonomy and equal ability to take part in society as they see fit include the right to end an unwanted pregnancy.

I am committed to supporting people in accessing abortion and other reproductive health services. If you feel similarly, you can support the National Network of Abortion Funds and the Carolina Abortion Fund, which help connect US residents to abortion services.

Disclaimer: This statement expresses my own values, not necessarily those of any organization with which I am affiliated.

Miscellaneous

Philosophy paper marking notation

Do you teach philosophy? Then maybe you end up writing the same guidance on student papers again and again. Maybe you would find some shorthand useful? Here is the Philosophy Paper Marking Notation & Abbreviations I have used. Feel free to try it! Let me know if you have any feedback.

Software antifeatures

Do you ever feel like the software on your phone or laptop is doing a lot of things that aren't necessarily in your best interest? If so, you may be encountering software antifeatures. At a personal level, antifeatures have perturbed me for many years. Additionally, antifeatures raise ethical issues for software development. I've written an introduction to some of the issues, available here: "Is It a Feature? Is it a Bug? No, It’s an Antifeature."