Department of PhilosophyWestern Arts and Humanities

Barry Hoffmaster



Philosophy of Law, Ethics, Biomedical Ethics

BA Dartmouth; MA, PhD Minnesota

Phone: 519-661-2111 ext. 85745
Office: Stevenson Hall, Room 4137

I work primarily in bioethics and philosophy of law and, more generally, in ethics.  I think that problems in these areas arise from the ubiquitous philosophical assumption that rationality is all and only reasoning.  But in practice the rationality of formal and informal reasoning runs out quickly.  In the law, for example, that is why judges are criticized for "making law" and exercising discretion.  What they are doing, though, is using their judgment.  I believe that their judgment, the clinical judgment of doctors, and our judgment can be rational with a more expansive process-based understanding of rationality.

I would be happy to be a supervisor or an advisor for a student writing a thesis in the areas of bioethics, philosophy of law, and practical ethics.
Some recent publications
Barry Hoffmaster, "The Rationality and Morality of Dying Children," The Hastings Center, Vol. 41, No. 6 (2011), pp. 30-42.
Barry Hoffmaster and Cliff Hooker, "Tragic Choices and Moral Compromise: The Ethics of Allocating Kidneys for Transplantation," The Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 91, No. 3 (2013), pp. 528-557.
Barry Hoffmaster, "Understanding Suffering," in Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant, eds., Suffering and Bioethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 31-53.