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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David J. Zoller

Associate Professor


Contact Information


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


  • 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
  • PHIL 449: Zen and Japanese Phenomenology


  • "Heidegger on Aristolian phronêsis and Moral Justification." European Journal of Philosophy (September 2020, online pre-print): 1– 17.
  • "Situating the Self in the Kingdom of Ends: Heidegger, Arendt, and Kantian Moral Phenomenology."  Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 75:1 (2019): 159-190.
  • “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.

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.

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