Between the Species

Between the Species online journal logoAn online philosophy journal about the relationship between humans and animals.
Click to visit the website

Ethics Group

Cal Poly's Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group focuses on the implications and impact of emerging sciences and technologies.
Click to visit the website

David J. Zoller

Assistant Professor

Ethics Bowl Coordinator


  • Continental Philosophy, esp. Phenomenology
  • Metaethics and Moral Knowledge
  • Applied Ethics
  • History of Philosophy

Contact Information


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, Fordham University (2011)
  • M.A., Philosophy, Fordham University (2006)
  • B.A., Classics/Philosophy, Xavier University (2003)

Courses Taught

  • PHIL 231: Philosophical Classics: Ethics and Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 285: Ethics Bowl
  • PHIL 309: Early Greek Philosophy
  • PHIL 311: Greek Philosophy
  • PHIL 316: 20th Century Continental Philosophy
  • PHIL 318: Phenomenology
  • PHIL 331: Ethics
  • PHIL 335: Social Ethics
  • PHIL 343: Continental Political Philosophy


  • “Skilled Perception, Authenticity, and the Case Against Automation.” In Robot Ethics 2.0, ed. Patrick Lin, Ryan Jenkins, and Keith Abney. New York: Oxford, 2017
  • “Moral Theory and Moral Motivation in Dilthey’s Critique of Historical Reason.” Idealistic Studies 46:1 (2017): 97-118.
  • “Moral Responsibility for Distant Collective Harms.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (February 18, 2015).
  • “Distributing Collective Moral Responsibility to Group Members.” Journal of Social Philosophy 45:4 (Winter 2014): 478-497.
  • “Realism and Belief Attribution in Heidegger’s Phenomenology of Religion.” Continental Philosophy Review 45:1 (2012): 101-120.

Selected Presentations

  • “Ethics and the Generality of Words: Expression, Indication, and the Human Good in Heidegger.”  Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (October 2018), State College, PA.
  • “Which Room am I in?  Arendt and Husserl on Collective Contexts and Homeless Minds.”  Social Ontology 2018 Conference (August 2018), Cambridge, MA.  
  • “Was Heidegger a Moral Particularist? Formal Indication and the Place of Moral Principles.” Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (October 2015), Atlanta, GA.
  • “Why You are Almost Certainly Responsible for Unstructured Collective Harms.” Collective Intentionality IX (September 10-13, 2014), Bloomington, IN
  • “Narrative ‘Ain’t Just in the Head’: Externalism and the Social Coherence of Life,” Society for Ricoeur Studies Annual Conference (November 2010), Montreal, Canada.
  • “Phenomenological Perspectives on Collective Responsibility: Heidegger and Schutz.” Annual Conference of The Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (October 29-31, 2009), Arlington, VA.
  • “Heidegger and the Intentionality of a Culture.” 3rd Annual Philosophical Red Star Line Conference (March 19-22, 2009), Antwerp, Belgium.
  • “Memory and the Cosmic Imagination: Reading Plato’s Timaeus with Paul Ricoeur.” 1st Annual Conference of the Society for Ricoeur Studies (November 7-8, 2007), Chicago, IL.

About David J. Zoller

My main interest is in phenomenology, in particular the phenomenological and existential work of Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl. I primarily research how meaning functions at and beyond the limits of perceptual experience: that is, how we know of, relate to, and take our bearings from universal, distant, and conceptual matters where nothing is perceptually present to us “in the flesh.” My applied work on this topic has focused on the ethics of distant or abstract scenarios (such as obligations regarding sweatshop labor and climate change), as well as on metaethical questions about the relationship between perception and moral knowledge. I have also written from a phenomenological perspective about the ethical relevance of losing our skills as robotics and automation take over human tasks.

Related Content