Specialising in the Philosophy of Emotion and Philosophy of Action, I am a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Between 2020 and 2022, I am conducting a three-year research project titled ‘Working with anger: A step towards a philosophy of emotion for Africa’, funded by a National Research Foundation Thuthuka grant.
I completed my undergraduate degree at Wits, before heading to the UK for a PhD at King’s College London. There, I wrote a dissertation titled ‘Feeling Reasons: How emotions explain action’, supervised by Dr Maria Alvarez and Prof. Bill Brewer. My PhD was awarded in 2015. I returned to Wits as a Postdoctoral Researcher from 2015-2016, before joining Thumos, the Genevan Research Group on Emotions, Values and Norms, at the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences (CISA), University of Geneva, as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow from 2016-2017. I returned to Wits in 2018.
My general interest is in understanding the role that emotion plays in both our personal and social lives. My primary research aim, starting with my PhD, is to contribute towards developing a robust conception of rational agency, one that acknowledges our emotional nature and that is able to incorporate emotions into an account of how we do indeed act in many of the cases when we act rationally.
In addition to my theoretical work on how emotions may or may not contribute to rational action, I am also interested in particular emotions such as anger – how we can assess their rational and moral status in political contexts, for instance – as well as how theoretical work on emotion can inform more applied debates, such as within bioethics. I have recently drawn on some of this applied work in collaborative work on the ethics of AI, particularly within an African context.
You can contact me via email: mary.carman[at]wits.ac.za