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Benjamin Curtis

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer

School of Arts & Humanities

Staff Group(s)
English, Culture and Media

Role

Dr Ben Curtis has a broad range of interests in analytical philosophy, with a particular focus on metaphysics and bioethics. He is currently Module Leader for the first year module Basic Problems in Philosophy, and the MA module Philosophical Approaches to the Humanities.

Career overview

After obtaining his PhD Dr Curtis taught for seven years in the philosophy department at the University of Nottingham before joining Nottingham Trent University.

Research areas

Dr Curtis' main research is in metaphysics and bioethics, and the intersection between the two.

Metaphysics:

Dr Curtis' research interests in metaphysics are wide and varied, but he has particular interests in the bundle theory of universals and Humeanism. Recent examples of his work in these areas include:

  • In a paper published in Nous Dr Curtis defends the universal bundle theory from an objection that is often thought to be conclusive, viz. that anyone who holds it is committed to a false version of the Identity of Indiscernibles. He currently has a paper in preparation in which he argues that a version of the theory called ‘Unrestricted Bundle Theory’ is a powerful metaphysical view that has hitherto been ignored in the literature.
  • Dr Curtis is a committed Humean – he believes it is a necessary condition of any acceptable metaphysical view that it eschews any commitment to necessary connections. Having become disillusioned with the most well-worked out Humean view on the market (i.e. that defended by David Lewis), due to its commitment to quidditism, he is currently exploring alternative Humean positions that do not involve such a commitment.

Bioethics:

Dr Curtis' work in bioethics is focussed around the application of metaphysics to bioethical debate. Recent examples include:

  • In a recent paper published in Bioethics Dr Curtis argues that Conceptionism (the view that zygotes are human beings) is not vulnerable to a particular argument (viz. the fission argument) if one accepts a particular view about persistence over time (viz. perdurantism).
  • In collaboration with Professor Simo Vehmas from the University of Helsinki, Dr Curtis has developed a view about the worth of disabled human beings that is based on the metaphysical view that intrinsic properties can be relationally constituted. This view is currently being further developed by Curtis and Vehmas, but an initial statement of their view can be found in the recent Cambridge University Press volume Disability and the Good Human Life.

Occasional Papers:

Dr Curtis has wide-ranging interests in philosophy as a whole, and also works on areas outside of his main areas of research. Recent examples include:

  • In a paper published in Analysis Dr Curtis has developed a new theory of fairness that takes its cue from John Broome’s well-known view on the topic.
  • Along with Dr Darrin Baines from the University of Coventry Dr Curtis has recently completed a draft paper on the Philosophy of Antiques, an almost entirely new topic area.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD in the School of Arts and Humanities exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

Sponsors and collaborators

Dr Curtis is currently engaged in a number of collaborative research projects:

  • He is working with Simo Vehmas, Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Helsinki, on the philosophy of disability
  • He is working with Professor Darrin Baines, Professor of Health Care Economics at the University of Coventry, on ethical issues in medicine. Both Dr Curtis and Professor Baines are antique lovers, and they have also worked together on an almost entirely new area of philosophy, the Philosophy of Antiques.
  • Dr Curtis also has a long-standing academic relationship with Professor Harold Noonan from the University of Nottingham. They have worked together on a number of papers in metaphysics, and plan to continue doing so in the future.

Publications

The rumble in the bundle.  Curtis BL, Noûs, 2014, 48 (2), 298-313

To be fair. Curtis BL, Analysis, 2014, 74 (1), 47-57

Moral worth and severe intellectual disability – A hybrid view. Curtis BL and Vehmas S in (eds) J Bickenbach, F Felder and B Schmitz, Disability and the Good Human Life, 2014, New York: Cambridge University Press, 19-49

Castles built on clouds: vague identity and vague objects. Curtis BL and Noonan HW, in (eds) Akiba K and Abasnezhad A, Vague Objects and Vague Identity - New Essays on Ontic Vagueness, 2014, New York: Springer, 305-335

See all of Benjamin Curtis's publications...

Press expertise

Dr Curtis works on issues in bioethics. These are moral and ethical issues that arise from existing and new biotechnologies and practices. He has knowledge in a wide range of areas within the subject, including:

  • Abortion
  • Euthanasia
  • Assisted suicide
  • Body modification
  • Cloning
  • Contraception
  • Eugenics
  • Genetic modification
  • Reproductive rights
  • Medical tourism
  • Reproductive tourism
  • Patient confidentiality
  • Stem cell research / experimentation on embryos
  • Experimentation on animals
  • Animal rights
  • Disability and health
  • Advanced directives
  • Bodily Identity Integrity Disorder (BIID)
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Gender Identity Disorder