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Levi Checketts, PhD

Thinking through the problems facing us and our children.

My approach to technological issues is basically this. First, we have to understand what the problem is, including who is involved, how it is affecting people and how things got to be the way they are. STS does a good job of describing how technologies come about, who makes them and how they shape society. Second, we have to understand what the technology is doing for our society, whether that's a good or a bad thing, and what we might do in turn. Philosophy of technology helps us interpret what technologies are and do, and moral philosophy gives us good material to work with to think about the ethical issues and moral obligations we face. Third, we need some guiding principle to explain which moral issues are most important and which can be sidelined, as well as a point to connect big ideas to people in the real world. As one of my professors at Boston College advised me, theology is life-giving in ways philosophy is not. Theology also gives us a grounding (i.e. God and our relationship to God) that philosophy often lacks.

Ethics of technology needs to be consequentialist--it needs to focus primarily on the effects of new technologies in our society more than the intentions behind using them. Paul Cruzen marked the beginning of the "Anthropocene," a term used to describe the current geological era shaped by human activity, at 1750, around the time steam engines became popular. Our current technological activity can have long-lasting and unpredictable effects, but, as the moral philosopher Hans Jonas argued, we need to approach technologies with a mind set on how they will impact future generations. This means we need to begin now thinking about how technologies like CRISPR, self-driving cars, 3d printing, automated labor, BlockChain Incription, facial recognition software, reusable space ships, and renewable energy sources are affecting society and will affect society in the long run.

Me teaching business ethics in 2014

Smoke from the Northern California fires in October 2017, as seen from Holy Names University

About me

I hold a PhD in Christian Ethics from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. My research is basically on ethical issues related to new technologies. As a way of addressing new technological problems, I research in various areas, including moral theology; continental philosophy; and Science, Technology and Society (STS) studies. Previously, I earned a Master's in ethics at Boston College and did my undergraduate work at the University of Notre Dame.

I currently work as an adjunct professor of philosophy and religious studies at Holy Names University, a small Catholic college nestled in the Oakland hills with a gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay. I typically teach introductory classes on ethics, courses on business ethics and classes on historical studies of the humanities and world religions. I have also taught at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, at the Graduate Theological Union and at the Institute for Leadership in Ministry with the Diocese of San Jose. I've also worked as a youth pastor, an SAT instructor and a research assistant.

I've published articles in Religions, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Though and Theology and Science as well as had chapters published in Social Epistemology and Technology and the forthcoming Religious Transhumanism and Its Critics. I am also currently working on turning my dissertation into a philosophy/STS book. I've presented my research at conferences for the Society for the Social Study of Science (4S), the Society for Philosophy and Technology and the Pacific Coast Theological Society. I've also presented work at a workshop on postcolonial STS at UC Berkeley and at TheoCom conference on digital media and theology. I've been a content editor for the Berkeley Journal of Religion and Theology for three years and have done a lot of work with Theologians Testing Transhumanism, the Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and UC Berkeley's Center for Science, Technology and Medicine Studies.

When I'm not writing lengthy academic works, I like to play computer games, especially in the RPG and Adventure genres. I'm not great at them, so please don't look for a professional-level gamer profile! I do love a good story, though, and I firmly believe video games can be a good medium for interesting narratives. I also like to spend time with my family, sometimes traveling across country or oceans, other times going to local sights. And when I'm not doing these things, I like to talk philosophy some more over appropriate beverages.

The full text of my CV is available as a pdf here.

You can also read some of my works on my page.

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