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David Sobel

David Sobel

David Sobel

Irwin and Marjorie Guttag Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy


534 Hall of Languages


  • Ph.D., The University of Michigan

Social/Academic Links

Biographic Overview

David Sobel is best known for his extensive research on the connection between what a person values and what is good for her. Are options good for us simply because we favor them, or must the options have their own value, independently of our favoring them, if they are to benefit us? Could we make some entirely pointless option, such as counting blades of grass, good for us just by liking it? If we say no, how can we explain why what we favor in matters of mere taste, such as one type of soda rather than another, is better for us when there seems nothing about either option, independently of our attitudes, that merits preferring one to the other? Sobel’s current work explores such questions.

His From Valuing to Value was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. He was a founding co-editor of annual series Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. He has held residential fellowships at Princeton’s Rockefeller Center for Human Values, All Souls College at the University of Oxford, The Australian National University (twice), The Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at The University of St. Andrews, The University of Konstanz, The University of Leiden, and the University of Cincinnati.

Representative Publications

“Hybrid Goods,” forthcoming, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. Co-authored with Steven Wall.

“The Objectivist Attempt to Appropriate Subjective Value,” 2023, Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Co-authored with Steven Wall.

“A Robust Hybrid Theory of Well-Being,” Philosophical Studies, Sept. 2021. Co-authored with Steven Wall.

A two-part blog post on sexual harassment in academia and what we might do about it which was signed by many leaders in the field (here and here). Co-authored with Janice Dowell.

The Case for Stance-Dependent Reasons,” The Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, 2019.

The Ethics of Eating Meat,” Philosophic Exchange, 2017.

“Disagreeing about How to Disagree,” Philosophical Studies, 2014. Co-authored with Kate Manne.

“Backing Away from Libertarian Self-Ownership,” Ethics, 2012.

The Impotence of the Demandingness Objection,” Philosophers’ Imprint, September 2007.

“Morality and Virtue,” Ethics, 2004. Co-authored with David Copp.

“Subjective Accounts of Reasons for Action” Ethics, 2001.

"Full Information Accounts of Well-Being" Ethics, 1994

Let me read you some of my recent work