Brendan de Kenessey

Formerly Brendan Dill

Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, 32-D808
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

I am a Ph. D student in philosophy at MIT. Before MIT, I studied Cognitive Science as an undergraduate at Yale. My research focuses on ethics and moral psychology.

My dissertation investigates joint practical deliberation, the activity of deciding together what to do. Its central thesis is that several ethically important speech acts - promises, offers, commands, requests, agreements, and consent - are all best understood as proposals within joint practical deliberation. I argue for this 'deliberative theory' by developing a theory of joint practical deliberation and showing how it allows us to predict and explain the properties of these speech acts. In future work, I plan to explore the role that joint practical deliberation plays in other moral phenomena, including collective action, interpersonal relationships, blame, and obligation.

A second strand of my research focuses on the intersection between experimental psychology and the philosophy of human motivation and action. In "Moral Psychology as Accountability," which I wrote with Stephen Darwall, we argue that recent philosophical work on the close connection between morality and accountability is both confirmed by and illuminates empirical data on the moral emotions and motives. In "The Addict in Us All," coauthored with Richard Holton, we develop an empirically informed model of self-control conflict that encompasses both addiction and ordinary temptation. In future work, I hope to apply a similar interdisciplinary approach to philosophical questions about the self, the nature of intention, and the connection between virtue and self-control.


Writing Sample
Dissertation Summary
Curriculum Vitae


"Moral Psychology as Accountability" (with Stephen Darwall)
In Moral Psychology and Human Agency: Philosophical Essays on the Science of Ethics, edited by Justin D'Arms and Daniel Jacobson, 40-83. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 2014.
[abstract] [pdf]

"The Addict in Us All" (with Richard Holton)
Frontiers in Psychiatry, 5(149): 1-20. 2014.
[abstract] [pdf]


A guide to the name 'de Kenessey'
My Philpapers page
My page