Kathleen Dean Moore

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Oregon State University

Kathleen Dean Moore is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and co-founder and Senior Fellow of the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word. An environmental philosopher, Moore writes about moral, spiritual, and cultural relationships to the natural world. Her recent award-winning edited volume, Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, addresses the question, Do we have a moral obligation to the future to leave a world as rich in possibilities as the world we inherited? Her current work applies ecological concepts to the challenges of making a powerful moral response to our environmental emergencies: If we truly understood that we live in complete dependence on an Earth that is interconnected, interdependent, finite, and resilient, could we imagine a better set of ideas about our moral responsibilities to one another, to the Earth, and to the future?

Moore is especially interested in the role of narrative in the discourse of environmental ethics. She is the author of books of nature essays -- Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature, Holdfast, Riverwalking, and The Pine Island Paradox, winner of the Oregon Book Award. She is co-editor of How It Is: The Native American Philosophy of V. F. Cordova and Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge.

With her son, biologist Jonathan Moore, at the UW salmon research station in the Wood-Tikchik watershed in central Alaska.

Deeply committed to engaged philosophy (which is to say, philosophy that contributes to the public discourse about critical issues of our time), Moore often writes beyond philosophical audiences in professional journals such as The Journal of Forestry, Frontiers in Ecology, and Environmental Ethics; and in popular journals such as Discover, Audubon, the North American Review, and Orion, where she serves on the Board of Directors. She speaks widely in public venues and on radio, including a recent conversation on climate ethics for NPR’s “Philosophy Talk.”

At Oregon State, Moore teaches philosophical and interdisciplinary courses about the place of humans in the natural world. Several of these are field courses, taking students to the high Cascades for intensive study. Off-campus, in a variety of landscapes from interior Alaska to the Apostle Islands, Moore teaches the art of the nature essay.

Long interested in innovative and interdisciplinary teaching, Moore is a two-time "Master Teacher" and the recipient of a number of teaching honors, including the “OSU Alumni Distinguished Professor Award." She is currently helping to create an Environmental Humanities Initiative in the new Division of Arts and Sciences.

Moore's Ph.D., from the University of Colorado, is in the philosophy of law, where her particular interest is in the nature of forgiveness and reconciliation. Her book, Pardons: Justice, Mercy, and the Public Interest (Oxford) outlines a justice-based argument for pardons.


  • –present
    Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Oregon State University