• I grew up in South-east Asia in the city-state of Singapore. At the age of 19, I went to Australia to study economics at the University of Melbourne. There I experienced kangaroos, Aussie rules ‘footy’, cricket, pub crawls...and philosophy. I took my first philosophy class, reading Plato’s Republic and Descartes’ Discourse on Method, and I never looked back. I added a philosophy major and when I returned to Singapore, I wrote a Master’s thesis at the local university, then applied to graduate schools to earn a doctorate in philosophy. I ended up in ‘laid back’ California at Stanford University in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area where I spent five wonderful years.

    I have joined UAB after many years of teaching at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point where I became a ‘Cheesehead’ or Packers fan. (In baseball, I still follow the San Francisco Giants. My most memorable year was 2010 when the Giants won the World Series, and the Packers won the SuperBowl!). Stevens Point is typical small-town America, surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms, and typified by ‘Midwest nice’-ness. Now that I have moved to the hospitable South, not only can I claim to have lived and studied on 3 continents, but I have experienced living in three very different parts of the United States. (I never lived in Europe, but I have done the back-packing thing travelling by train with a copy of Let’s Go Europe!)

    UAB is known for medical and health-related studies, and the philosophy department has a tradition in teaching bioethics, and publishing important ethics textbooks. For philosophy majors, the department is able to offer all core areas of philosophy as well as introducing many of the latest topics of philosophical research. I am bringing to UAB new courses in the ethics of war, virtue ethics, and philosophy of action. I will draw on a long professional career and my global experience as I teach classes on these and other subjects in philosophy. I hope students will join me in finding philosophy to be exciting and life-changing.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2022 Correction to: John Schwenkler, Anscombe’s Intention: A Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. ISBN978-0-19-005203-4, $24.95, PbkJournal of Value Inquiry.  56:701-701. 2022
    2022 John Schwenkler, Anscombe’s Intention: A Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. ISBN978-0-19-005203-4, $24.95, PbkJournal of Value Inquiry.  56:679-685. 2022
    2015 The concept of human dignity in the ethics of genetic researchBioethics.  29:274-282. 2015
    2012 Editor's IntroductionPhilosophy in the Contemporary World.  19:1-3. 2012
    2012 Is Choice Good or Bad for Justice in Health Care?APA newsletters.  11:21-25. 2012
    2010 Reasoning without comparingAmerican Philosophical Quarterly.  47:149-160. 2010
    2007 Wrongful Life, Wrongful Disability, and the Argument against CloningJournal of Philosophical Research.  32:257-272. 2007
    2006 How War Affects PeoplePhilosophy in the Contemporary World.  13:1-5. 2006
    2005 Active Voluntary Euthanasia and the Problem of Intending DeathJournal of Philosophical Research.  30:379-389. 2005
    2004 Are there extrinsic desires? 2004
    2000 Intention and responsibility in double effect cases.Ethical Theory and Moral Practice.  3:405-434. 2000
    2000 The doctor-patient relationship: A survey of attitudes and practices of doctors in SingaporeBioethics.  14:58-76. 2000
    1999 A not-so-simple view of intentional actionPacific Philosophical Quarterly.  80:1-16. 1999


    Year Title Altmetric
    2016 Beyond just war: A virtue ethics approach 2016
    2016 Action Reconceptualized Human Agency and Its Sources 2016
    2008 Moral Psychology Today Essays on Values, Rational Choice, and the Will 2008


    Year Title Altmetric
    2020 Luck, Happiness, and Forrest Gump.  91-102. 2020
    2018 The use of lethal drones in the war on terror.  135-145. 2018
    2018 Virtue ethics and nonviolence.  168-178. 2018
    2010 A reappraisal of the doctrine of doing and allowing.  25-45. 2010
    2008 Moral Psychology Today 2008
    2004 Autonomy, Humane Medicine, and Research Ethics: An East Asian Perspective 2004
    The Ethics of War and Law Enforcement in Defending Against Terrorism.  101-114.

    Research Overview

  • I am a moral philosopher doing research on a number of inter-connected questions. The work that I do in normative ethics is to formulate and defend a version of virtue ethics, and to apply the theory to issues in the ethics of war and in medical ethics. In recent times, virtue ethics has enjoyed a resurgence of interest outside of ancient philosophy circles as a rival to utilitarianism and deontological ethics. But there is no consensus among virtue ethicists on a version that can overcome challenges to Aristotle’s account. I have been using my background in the philosophy of action to develop the conceptual foundation in moral psychology for virtue ethics, and I am now working on a neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics that is different from other versions. This project involves examination of what the human good is and how practical wisdom is exercised by virtuous agents in a way that does not depend on the application of rules or the comparison of alternatives in terms of a single value. A central question in virtue ethics that I am interested in concerns what the relation is between human good and happiness.

    Keywords - Ethical Theory, Ethics of War, Medical Ethics, Moral Psychology (particularly, Philosophy of Action, Practical Reasoning)
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University 1993
  • Full Name

  • David Chan