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    Dept. of History, Philosophy, International Studies and Legal Studies

Dept. of History, Philosophy, International Studies & Legal Studies
Dr. James Masterson, Interim Department Chair
Diane Lawson,
Academic Departmental Specialist
354 Rader Hall
Morehead, KY 40351
Phone: 606-783-2655
Fax: 606-783-5096

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MSU Home :: O'Brien, Wendell

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O'Brien, Wendell, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Degrees, Licensures and Certifications: Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 1992; M.A., The Johns Hopkins University, 1985; M.T.S., Harvard University, 1982; B.A., Malone College, 1979
Research Interests:

Dr. O'Brien's research interests lie primarily in everyday ethics, normative ethics, the history of ethics, and moral psychology

Dr. O'Brien's publications include:

  • "The Permissibility of Happiness in a World of Suffering." Philosophy in the Contemporary World, 21(2).
  • "Boredom,"  Analysis 74:2 April (2014), 236-243
  •  "The Meaning of Life: Early Continental and Analytic Perspectives." The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • "How Not to Forgive," Philosophy Now 91 July/August (2012), 34-35
  • "Thoreau and the Animals," Between the Species VI (2006)
  • "Theories of Well-Being," Cogito XII (1998), 139-143
  • "Meaning and Mattering," The Southern Journal of Philosophy XXXIV (1996), 339-360
  • "Butler, Hobbes, and Human Nature," Vera Lex XIV (1994), 89-92 
  • "Judgments of Character," The International Journal of Applied Philosophy  VII (1992-93), 15-19
  • "Butler and the Authority of Conscience,"  History of Philosophy Quarterly  VIII (1991), 43-57

Dr. O'Brien regularly teaches the FYS for freshmen as well as PHIL 100 Beginning Philosophy, PHIL 106 Beginning Logic, PHIL 313 American Philosophy, PHIL 320 Asian Philosophy, PHIL 321 The Meaning of Life, and PHIL 410 Current Philosophy.  He occasionally teaches special PHIL 399 classes on such figures as Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, the Stoics, and the Epicureans.

Contact Info:
345 Rader Hall 
Morehead, KY40351
Phone: 606.783.2786


Dr. Wendell O'Brien, Associate Professor of Philosophy, has been on the faculty of Morehead State University since 1992.  Originally from Ohio, but with ancestors primarily from eastern Kentucky, he cares deeply about the region and its students.  He has previously taught at Loyola College and Towson State University. He lives with his wife, one of his daughters, one dog, and four cats in Morehead, Kentucky.  He spends a great deal of time in the woods, observing local flora and fauna, and (sometimes) reading in his easily transportable folding chair. He would rather live in Morehead than anywhere in the world.


John Lee
 "My philosophy background really helps me in evaluating various theological perspectives here at seminary. Also, and most importantly I think, it has helped me to better understand and relate to the moral and intellectual worldviews of the people I meet and try to share my faith with. I really do believe that I'm a better person, a better Christian, and a better minister because of my studies in philosophy."

--John Lee, graduate student, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY 

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