Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heather Salazar

My research focuses on a cluster of related issues surrounding the nature, origin, and force of our obligations to ourselves and others. Within this general domain, my current work is on enlightened self-interest both within Western perspectives (neo-Kantian ethical constructivism and philosophical psychology) and Eastern traditions (Yogic philosophy and Buddhism). I argue that as people become better acquainted with themselves and the world, that natural motivations for caring about others often converge with philosophical arguments for governing our relationships with respect, kindness, and love. I am also an artist, photographer, and yoga teacher. My original art is on the covers of a half dozen philosophy books.

AOS: Meta-ethics, East-West Comparative Ethics, and Business Ethics

AOC: Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, Normative Ethics and Philosophical Psychology


Ph.D. Philosophy, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
B.A. Philosophy, B.S. Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Creating a Shared Morality Heather SalazarCreating a Shared Morality Heather Salazar

Pictured is the cover and frontispiece (by Heather Salazar)


Creating a Shared Morality: The Feasibility of Ethical Constructivism
Brill Publishing, 2021

This book is devoted to discussing the potential of neo-Kantian ethical constructivism. It in, I trace the history of constructivism and explain its appeal as a compromise between the two primary theories of metaethics: subjectivism and realism. I analyze the most developed and prominent version of the theory, ‘Publicity as Shareability,’ advocated by Christine Korsgaard, and explore the strengths and weaknesses of her arguments, the theory, and its implications. I then develop my own version of neo-Kantian constructivism which rejects several significant components within Korsgaard’s account. Enlightenism is the result.

Enlightenism resolves difficulties within constructivism and builds bridges between the two traditional Western views of metaethics. It also employs concepts and insights from Eastern philosophy (specifically Buddhism) to show how constructivism can effectively resolve its apparent inconstancies. I argue that selfish people, though not necessarily immoral or irrational, would be more whole and enlightened if they understood themselves as interdependent with others in the world. Constructivist enlightenment, which is the result of a thorough understanding and dedication to the discovery of oneself and one’s innate interdependence on others, implies that morality is not a set of principles imposed from outside of oneself, nor does it require people to relinquish their freedom and diversity. Enlightenism emerges as an East-West constructivist theory with a robust sense of moral obligation that emanates from the reflective knowledge of the self. This book is therefore a defense and development of the best parts of neo-Kantian metaethical constructivism combined with Eastern Indian insights.





Mind Over Matter Heather Salazar


Mind Over Matter:Philosophical Essays on the Spiritual Dimension of Achievement
by Rod Nicholls and Heather Salazar
Brill Publishing, 2022

Mind Over Matter presents an innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous philosophical analysis of the value of the spiritual dimension of human achievement. Creative, scientific, artistic, scholastic, and athletic achievements provide some of the diverse disciplines of achievement analyzed. The editors seek original philosophical contributions that challenge assumptions that productivity is wholly explicable through physical traits and the assertion of effort and instead show how faith, self-confidence and achievement can be ameliorated through mental and spiritual devotion or practice.






Philosophy of Mind, Heather SalazarAvailable for free on Rebus and in hard copy on Amazon. As an artist, I also created original art for the cover for Philosophy of Mind and the other books in the series.


Intro to Philosophy of Mind
Edited by Heather Salazar, Rebus Foundation
Quebec, Montreal, Canada, September 2019

Introduction to Philosophy of Mind surveys the central themes in philosophy of mind and places them in a historical and contemporary context intended to engage first-time readers in the field. It focuses on debates about the status and character of the mind and its seemingly subjective nature in an apparently more objective world. It is the first book of a 14-part series to make high quality open access textbooks available to readers.





Philosophy of Mind Heather SalazarPictured is the back. Available for free on Rebus and in hard copy on Amazon.


“Materialism and Behaviorism,” in Intro to Philosophy of Mind
dited by Heather Salazar, Rebus Foundation, September 2019

In “Materialism and Behaviorism,” I explore the primary theories that reject the mind, usually in favor of scientific explanations that attempt to reduce the mind to empirical neurological or behavioral facts. In so doing, I explain logical behaviorism or positivism, eliminative materialism, type identity theory, Leibniz’ Law (the indiscernibility of identicals), and Ockham’s Razor (the principle of parsimony). I explain the arguments of Rene Descartes, David Hume, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, J.J.C. Smart, U.T. Place, Paul and Patricia Churchland, Otto Neurath, Rudolph Carnap, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Carl Hempel. I also address arguments against materialism and behaviorism such as Hilary Putnam’s multiple realizability of the mental and Peter Geach’s devastating objection of circularity.




Philosophy of Spirituality Heather Salazar

Pictured, our book was highlighted on the cover and in the TOC in the Brill Philosophy Catalog for 2019.


The Philosophy of Spirituality: Analytic, Continental and Multicultural Approaches to a New Field of Philosophy
by Heather Salazar and Rod Nicholls
Brill Publishing,
December 2018

Until recently, most philosophers in the analytic and continental Western traditions treated spirituality as a religious concept.  Any non-religious spirituality tended to be neglected or dismissed as irremediably vague. Here, from various philosophical and cultural perspectives, it is addressed as a subject of independent interest. This is a philosophical response to increasing numbers of spiritual but not religious people inhabiting secular societies and the heightened interaction between a multitude of spiritual traditions in a globalized age. A provocative array of approaches (African, Indigenous, Indian, Stoic, and Sufic perspectives, as well as Western analytic and continental views) offer fresh insights, many articulated by emerging voices.




Philosophy of Spirituality Heather Salazar

My original art is on the cover, which was also featured on the cover page of Brill’s 2019 philosophy catalog.


“Is Yogic Enlightenment Dependent Upon God?”
In Philosophy of Spirituality
Co-edited by Heather Salazar and Rod Nicholls
Brill Publishing, December 2018

“Is Yogic Enlightenment Dependent Upon God?” is based on research was engaged in on the subject of yoga and philosophy since 2011, when my first chapter on philosophical yoga appeared in Bending Mind and Body (Wiley-Blackwell). This paper emphasizes Patanjali’s philosophical contributions to Yoga and includes extensive original research and arguments. In it, I argue that yoga practitioners can and should embrace atheistic forms of Yoga as long as these forms follow certain philosophical practices such as non-attachment and seek the ultimate Self as distinguished from the mind and body.

My primary focus is whether and to what extent yogic philosophy depends upon a God or a higher power. I address the accusation that Western yoga is overly concerned with asana (postures), and examine what Patañjali, as well as contemporary yoga gurus such as Krishnamacharya, Iyengar, Jois, and Desikachar say about yoga’s connection to Isvara. A proper understanding of “non-religious” within the interpretation of traditional yoga is non-dogmatic (without particular conceptual commitments and presuppositions about the nature of God), rather than non-theistic. However, I show that the central philosophy and methods of yoga preclude it from excluding atheistic yogic enlightenment. Finally, I explore concerns that more atheistic and less overtly spiritual forms of yoga are not genuine paths to samadhi (enlightenment). I argue that yoga can maintain (and even increase) its integrity in adaptations to a largely Christian and atheistic West. The paths are various and still in development, but there are reasons to be hopeful that true, non-dogmatic yoga and samadhi will be accessible for a growing number of people in the West, regardless of their religious beliefs.


Philosophy of Yoga Heather Salazar



“Descartes’ and Patañjali’s Conceptions of the Self,”
Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion
Volume 19,
December 2014

In this paper, I present a unique application of semantic externalism, a contemporary theory in philosophy of language, as a way to bridge the gap in understanding and scope of Western and Eastern philosophy of mind. The paper was a work in progress for two years. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) and Patañjali, author of the Yoga Sutras (c. 400 CE), are both famous for articulating paradigmatic expressions of substance dualism, the view that the true self or mind is a fundamentally different kind of substance than the physical body. Typically, each is cited as the case study of dualism, for the Western tradition and for the Indian tradition respectively. This paper examines Desartes’ and Patañjali’s conceptions of the self, the methods for how to discover it, and what its purpose and limitations are. It explores to what extent these two conceptions of the self are reconcilable and in the process of doing so, tries to illustrate the way in which such comparative philosophy, across traditions, helps to illuminate each tradition.


Philosophy Futurama Heather Salazar


“A Fate Worse than Death?” in Futurama and Philosophy
Philosophy and Popular Culture Series
Ed. by Shaun Young and Court Lewis. Open Court, 2013

In “A Fate Worse than Death?” I examine whether and to what extent death can be bad. I do so within the context of the tv show Futurama for the Philosophy and Popular Culture Seriesnew book Futurama and Philosophy, released to book stores in November 2013. Briefly my argument is this: Death is bad, but we can imagine worse. Some of those things we can imagine to be worse include those things that tear us apart from our most treasured sense of who we are. Reasons to maintain one’s cherished values and identity can trump reasons to preserve youth, health, closeness with one’s family, and even life itself.






Philosophy Self Interest Heather Salazar



“Self-Interest,” in The New Catholic Encyclopedia

Series on Ethics and Morality (Print Volume)

Ed. by Robert Fastiggi. Gale Cengage Learning, 2013

My essay on self-interest is now published in a four volume print series on philosophy and morality. In it, I examine how self-interest diverges from selfishness and show how self-interest is necessary to an understanding and application of moral theory. I enlist Ayn Rand as a contrast case to show that psychological egoism is false. I explore philosophical arguments against egoism based on Plato’s Republic. I explained that even David Hume (who thought that everyone should do what is rational (wherein rationality is based on a hypothetical imperative to do what one desires) argued that people are not solely motivated by self-advantage. On the other hand, Immanuel Kant argued that people must also be governed by the Categorical Imperative (a law of rationality which is superior to the hypothetical imperative) and that implies that we do what is right (wherein what is right is constituted by acting according to the Good Will, which implies that everyone treat all others as equally worthy). Utilitarianism, even more than the other theories, requires a great deal of self-sacrificial behavior. I explore some contemporary evolutionary views of self-interest such as Brian Skyrm’s game theoretical notion of a social contract which shows that individuals rely on “the thriving of the group” (Salazar 1392). Finally, I explain that current research on happiness indicates that there appears to be some overlap between individual happiness and the extent to which people are unselfish.



Mind, Self, and World
Philosophy of Language
Philosophy of Mind
Research in Philosophical Psychology 
History of Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy of Fashion
Personality and Ethics
Business Ethics
Masters Level Business Ethics
Ethics and Literature
Ethics and Hispanic Literature
Historical Ethics
Multicultural Ethics/Ethics Across the Continents/Ethics East, West and South