Academics: Faculty

Shay Welch, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
The Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center, Room 432
Office: 404-270-5518
Fax: 404-270-5523

View CV


AOS: Social/Political Philosophy, Feminist Ethics
AOC: Ethical Theory, Critical Race Theory, Indian/Hindu Philosophy
Native American Philosophy
Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to Philosophy


Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
Program in Social, Political, Ethical, and Legal Philosophy
Ph.D in Philosophy
Certificate in Feminist Theory

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
MA in Philosophy
Women’s Studies Letter

University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL
BA in Philosophy
BA in Political Science

Current Research:

Broadly, my research centers on developing a framework of social freedom- individual freedom in and through social interaction. Problems of gender and racial oppression are central to this analysis.The moral values central to my analysis of this conception of freedom are: trust, friendship, cooperation, and commitment. My work in feminist philosophy focuses largely on the body and the ways in which oppression shapes individuals’ relations to it qua sex, beauty, and fitness.

My work in race theory centers largely on mixed-raced identity -- specifically Native American -- and the problems for self-identification that arise from (political) socially constructed racial membership requirements.

Currently, I am developing a notion of ‘desperate rationality’ that can accommodate complex questions of responsibility, blame, and forgiveness of women under severe oppression.  This analysis of desperate rationality aims to account for what I call the “fighter” phenomenon.  This concept will account for people choosing in highly racist contexts, the choices of abused women, and, broadly, any oppressive context that forces individuals to “bargain” with systemic oppression at the individual level in order to avoid extreme harm and punishment. 

As Uma Narayan has pointed out, much of the literature implies a false dichotomy for these sorts of oppressed individuals: either they are complete victims and therefore not morally responsible because unable to choose rationally or they maintain and demonstrate rational moral agency and, as a result, cannot but be held responsible for their intentional and rational choices.  I believe this picture of individuals functioning in situations of extreme harm is inadequate.  Most people who operate in this way are far more rational and strategic than others who simply navigate more standard moral pathways.  I believe that oppression situates people in contexts where they could not have reasonably done otherwise and I think some of the individuals are situated in circumstances so severe that they could not have done otherwise, period. 

I think that analyzing different levels of oppression will help us determine the difference between these two scenarios.  It is only by knowing whether an oppressed individual is responding to oppression based duress or oppression based desperation that others will be able to appropriately account for and respond to these choosers.  Moreover, until we know more about the role of oppressed choosers for the oppression of others, we cannot make accurate moral prescriptions for resistance. 



A Theory of Freedom: Feminism and the Social Contract. Palgrave
Macmillan Publishing Co., 2012.

Peer Review Articles
“A Discursive General Will: How Collective Reasoning Strengthens Social Freedom”. Constellations (forthcoming)

 “Transparent Trust and Oppression” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Sept. 2011. (online first)

“Social Freedom and Commitment”.  Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 15, no. 1, Spring 2012: 117-134.

Invited Chapters
“Feminist Criticisms of Women’s Bodybuilding: Is my body really my own?”

Conference Publications
“The Ambigendered Übermensch.” Proceedings of the New York State Philosophical Association 153rd Conference, November 2007.

Invited Pedagogy Articles
“Fit, Mentoring, and Commitment.”  Hypatia, FEAST Special Issue: Current Work in Feminist Ethics and Social Theory, vol. 26, no. 4, Fall 2011: 888-894. 
Book Reviews
Review Essay.  Feminist Interventions in Ethics and Politics, ed. Andrew, Barbara, Keller, Jean, & Schwartzman, Lisa, Social Theory and Practice.  Vol. 33, No. 1.  January 2007: 159-162.

Under Review
 “Social Freedom and the Value(s) of Friendship (Amity: Journal of Friendship)