Professor Clair Morrissey
Professor, Philosophy
B.A., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; M.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Appointed In
Swan Hall #203
By appointment.

Clair Morrissey is a moral philosopher who specializes in practical ethics and political philosophy.

Professor Morrissey, recipient of Occidental's Linda and Tod White Teaching Prize (2017) and Donald R. Loftsgordon Award for Outstanding Teaching (2023), is a moral philosopher who specializes in practical ethics and political philosophy, with areas of interest in bioethics, environmental ethics, and aesthetics. She teaches a wide range of courses in these areas. 

Her current research concerns the nature and value of "wit," and the value of scientific inquiry, focusing on how studying the natural sciences, especially ecology, inculcates in individuals reverence for the natural world. She has also recently launched a new collaboration with colleagues in the College’s Biology Department through their long-standing fieldwork research program for undergraduates at the Organization for Tropical Studies’ La Selva Biological Research Station in Costa Rica. (Featured here.) The new collaboration, supported by a 2017-2019 Graves Award in the Humanities, has two elements: (a) a philosophical reading and discussion group for both philosophy and ecology undergraduate researchers about environmental ethics and ecological research ethics, and (b) philosophy faculty and undergraduate researchers embedded within and assisting with ecological fieldwork.

With Elizabeth Brake (Rice University), she co-edited the 2020-21 Pacific APA Special Issue of Philosophical Studies



C. Morrissey and E. Neale (2019) “Nonideal theory, self-respect, and preimplantation genetic technologies,” in Human Embryos and Preimplantation Technologies: Ethical, Social, and Public Policy Aspects, p. 67-74, eds. E. Scott Sills and Gianpiero D. Palermo, Elsevier. 

C. Morrissey and R. L. Walker (2018) “The Ethics of General Population Preventive Genomic Sequencing: Rights and Social Justice,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43: 22-43.

A. Sherman and C. Morrissey (2017) “What is Art Good For?: The Socio-Epistemic Value of Art,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 11: 411.

C. Morrissey (2016) “The Value of Dignity in and for Bioethics: Rethinking the Terms of the Debate,” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 37(3): 173-192.

C. Morrissey and K. Palghat (2014) “Engaging Reading,” Teaching Philosophy 37(1): 37-55.

R. L. Walker and C. Morrissey (2014) “Bioethics Methods in the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of the Human Genome Project Literature,” Bioethics 28(9): 481-490.

C. Morrissey and R. L. Walker (2012) “Funding and Forums for ELSI Research: Who (or What) Is Setting the Agenda?” American Journal of Bioethics Primary Research 3(3): 41-50.

R. L. Walker and C. Morrissey (2012) “Charting ELSI’s Future Course: Lessons from the Recent Past,” Genetics in Medicine 14(2): 259-267.