— On Assholes

I’m a philosophy professor (details below) who thinks, writes, and teaches in ethics and political philosophy.

I mainly write for academics (in professional journals and in a recent book on fairness in the global economy (skim the book here)). I have plans for a book on social practices and global justice, and grander intellectual ambitions, for the long haul, that run across my research areas of moral theory, political philosophy, and the foundations of ethics (especially re “constructivism”).

I’m also dabbling in popular writing, in hopes of contributing to public life in more direct and (if I’m lucky) more entertaining ways.  I wrote a book about assholes, and I’ve got ideas for a book about surfing, what it shows about the human condition, the meaning of life, and advanced capitalism. (I’ve been an avid surfer since my early teens, so a book about surfing and philosophy would join two of my life’s main preoccupations.)

Academic details: Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University.   Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of California, Irvine (website here).  Awarded the Burkhardt Fellowship by the American Council of Learned Societies (interview here), spending the 2009-10 academic year at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.  I’ll be a visiting professor at NYU in Philosophy during Fall 2013.

Some media appearances are below.

Photo by James Hammack


“Diffusing the A-Bomb,” Luisa Kamps, Elle magazine, here.

“Where the Sun Always Shines.  And Where It Never Does,” Los Angeles Review of Books, by Zach Dorfman,   here.

The New Yorker, Feb. 11, advertisement, DD094A_assholes-newyorker-verticalprint-v5-PRINTcrops[1].

“The Scent of Entitlement,” a review by Michael Bywater in Literary Review, here.

“How to Manage Assholes,” in Management Today, here.

“The Asshole Scientist,” The-Scientist.com, here.

“To the best of our knowledge,” interview, Wisconsin Public Radio/PRI, here.

Al Jazzera, “The Stream,” on New Year’s Eve 2012, on internet “trolling,” here.

Entertainment Weekly, end-of-year issue, p. 102, or here: “Books we least want to be seen carrying in public: Vagina, by Naomi Wolf, and Assholes, by Aaron James.”

Harper’s Magazine, review by Jane Smiley, here.  (Subscription only, so here’s a snippet: “a delightful combination of the demotic and the technical… James gives us some practical advice for confronting assholes, for maintaining self-respect and social position in a world full of them”)

The Chronicle of Higher Education, review by Evan Goldstein, here.

The Guardian, in Oliver Burkeman’s “This Column Will Change Your Life: Don’t Let an Asshole Get to You,” here.

The New York Times, in Timothy Kreider’s “The Quiet Ones,” here.

CBS News Sunday Morning, “A Delicate Discussion of the A-World,” here.

National Public Radio, on Dinner Party Download, here.

Radio Live New Zealand, here.

Newstalk Radio Ireland, here.

New York Magazine, Joe Keohane’s “Who’s the Asshole?”  here.

Orange County Register, Keith Sharon’s “Describing Boors with a Capital A” here.

New York Daily News, Sherryl Connelly’s, “You May Be an A-hole if…” here.

Huffington Post, “8 Really Big A*sholes,” here.

Slate, Alex Balk’s review, “The A-hole in the Mirror,” here.

Salon, “How Fox News Created a New Culture of Idiots,” here.

PolititikenDK (in Danish), here.

MetroXpress (in Danish), here.

nonfiction.fr, “What is an Asshole?” (in French, with Google translation into English), here.

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