By Chloe Rodriguez, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
7 April, 2017

Eric Schwitzgebel is a professor of philosophy at UCR who received a BA from Stanford in 1990 and went on to receive a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1997. Presently, he is working on several projects, one of them being a study on those who eat meat versus those who don’t. In this study, he focuses on the relationship between people’s behavior and opinions that they espouse or support verbally. He sent in a questionnaire to five professors asking their opinions on eating meat. He found that sixty percent of the respondents said eating meat was bad. More female professors stated the negatives on consuming meat than their male counterparts. Likewise, younger professors stated the same than older professors. Although, while there was a big difference in opinion there were hardly any differences in their food options. Those who stated that eating meat was bad, led an opposite lifestyle. This led to questioning people’s morality.

In 2014-2015 professor Schwitzgebel became interested in questions about what kinds of things influence people’s morals. He conducted another study where people were asked questions about blood donation. Many people stated it is the right thing to do to give blood and to have the blood donor sticker on one’s license. The same people who said it was right were usually the ones who had never given blood before. He proceeded to give people ‘philosophical motivational narratives’ which sought out what influences them to give to charity. “The art of philosophy is finding the simple truth – the simple heart of the matter”. He is currently working on another study with two professors from the Psychology Department, Sonia and Dan, on Happiness Intervention. The study is about philosophically informed measures of happiness and well-being. How can one measure people’s opinions on happiness?  People either found happiness through creative thinking or by seeing how far their potential would take them. “Things are always more complicated under the microscope” he states. Schwitzgebel, Sonia, and Dan have received a two-year grant on the Templeton Foundation for this study.

To learn more about past topics he has studied and written about, visit: www.faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/

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