Religious Studies Program

The Cal Poly Philosophy Department houses a Religious Studies program with a wide variety of courses in GE and a Religious Studies minor.

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Between the Species

Between the Species online journal logoAn online philosophy journal about the relationship between humans and animals.
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Ethics Group

Cal Poly's Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group focuses on the implications and impact of emerging sciences and technologies.
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Ava Thomas Wright

Ava Wright

Assistant Professor

Contact Information 


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Georgia
  • M.S., Artificial Intelligence, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Philosophy, Georgia State University
  • J.D. cum laude, Georgia State University
  • B.A., Philosophy, Psychology, Rice University

Courses Taught

  • PHIL 323: Ethics, Science and Technology
  • PHIL 333: Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 334: Philosophy of Law
  • PHIL 300: Philosophical Writing and Research


  • Areas of Specialization: AI and Information Ethics, Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Kant's Practical Philosophy
  • Areas of Competence: Artificial Intelligence, Philosophy of Law, Logic, Epistemology, Cognitive Science

Publications (Selected)

  • “A Kantian Course Correction for Machine Ethics,” in Technology Ethics: A Philosophical Introduction and Readings, ed. by Gregory Robson and Jonathan Tsou (New York: Routledge, 2023). (forthcoming)
  • "Kantian Freedom as 'Purposiveness,'" Kant-Studien 113 (4) (2022), 1-19.
  • "Rightful Machines," in Kant and Artificial Intelligence, ed. by Hyeongjoo Kim and Dieter Schönecker (Boston: De Gruyter, 2022), 223-238.
  • "Dostoevsky's Poetics of Modern Freedom: Against Bakhtin's 'Polyphonic' Moral Truth," Labyrinth: An International Journal for Philosophy, Value Theory, and Sociocultural Hermeneutics 23, no. 1 (2021): 72-85.
  • "Mill's Social Epistemic Rationale for the Freedom to Dispute Scientific Knowledge: Why We Must Put Up With Flat-Earthers," Philosopher's Imprint 21, no. 14 (2021), 1-14.
  • “Why Free Speech Rights for Business Corporations Cannot Be Justified,” Southwest Philosophy Review 37, no. 1 (2021): 187-198. 

Presentations (Selected)

  • “Value Alignment, Control, and Uncertainty: Toward Substantive Accounts of Rational Agency in Machine Ethics," 2022 Meeting of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP-2022) (co-speaker, with Jacob Sparks), Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, 23 July 2022 (virtual)
  • “Rightful Machines,” 5th International Conference on AI and Humanities (ICAIH 2022) (invited), Chung-Ang University (CAU), Seoul, South Korea, 23 July 2022 (virtual)
  • “Why We Must Put Up With Flat-Earthers: Mill’s Social Epistemic Rationale for the Freedom to Dispute Scientific Knowledge,” Free Speech Research Cluster Lecture Series, Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, Southern Methodist University (invited), 26 January 2022 (virtual)
  • "The AI Control Problem," American Bar Association, AI and Robotics National Institute panel (invited) (co-speaker) 13 October 2021 (virtual)
  • “Rule-Based Robots: Why Autonomous Machines Can and Must be Governed by Rules of Right,” Computer Ethics—Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE) / International Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP) Joint Conference 2021: The Philosophy and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, 5 July 2021 (virtual)
  • "A Kantian Approach to Dilemmas: Solving the Trolley Problem," American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting (colloquium paper, main program), 26 February 2020, Chicago, IL
  • "A Deontic Logic for Programming Rightful Machines," AAAI/ACM 2020 Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society (main program), 7-8 February 2020, New York, NY
  • “Two Rationales for the Duty of Veracity in ‘On a Supposed Right to Lie,’” 13th International Kant Congress (held approximately every five years) (colloquium paper), 4-6 August 2019, Oslo, Norway
  • “Rightful Machines,” CEPE (Computer Ethics—Philosophical Enquiry), 2019 Biennial Conference (colloquium paper), 28–30 May 2019, Norfolk, VA
  • "Rightful Machines and Dilemmas," AAAI/ACM 2019 Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society (main program), 27 January 2019, Honolulu, HI
  • "A Duty of Veracity as a Necessary Condition of Kantian Justice," American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting (colloquium paper, main program), 10 January 2019, New York, NY

Professional Affiliations

  • Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)
  • American Philosophical Association
  • International Society for Ethics and Information Technology (INSEIT)
  • North American Kant Society

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