Dr. Swartzer engages in a broad range of scholarly pursuits in research, ethics pedagogy, and developing university-facing and public-facing programs that promote ethical literacy and philosophical engagement for a variety of audiences.
As a researcher, Dr. Swartzer’s current work focuses mainly on theoretical and practical issues related to the profound injustice (especially the profound racial injustice) within the U.S. system of mass incarceration. This work seeks to identify and better understand the moral problems within the U.S. system of racialized policing and punishment, and to demonstrate that approaches to the philosophy of punishment that are more sensitive to these underlying forms of injustice will lead to very different understandings of punishment than the standard, idealized philosophical treatments of these issues. This project lies at the intersection of ethics, social and political philosophy, and the philosophy of law, while drawing heavily on the resources provided from other areas of philosophy, history, social science, and activist work. In recognition of this work, Dr. Swartzer was awarded the 2016 Early Career Scholar Prize from the Association for Practical And Professional Ethics.
Beyond research, Dr. Swartzer has strong interests in ethics pedagogy, and promotion of ethical literacy within and beyond the traditional college classroom. He has led and participated in numerous workshops and seminars on professional ethics, ethics in research, and ethics across the curriculum. He is also extensively involved with Ethics Bowl, at both the college and pre-college levels. Ethics Bowl is an exciting debate-like competition that promotes civil discourse about controversial issues in personal, social, and political ethics. This competition has tremendous educational value and develops important critical and ethical reasoning skills. Teams are judged on the clarity and force of their argument, on the extent to which they identify and thoroughly examine the central moral dimensions of the case at hand, and on the extent to which they demonstrate their awareness and thoughtful consideration of multiple viewpoints. Dr. Swartzer currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) program, and served on the NHSEB Executive Committee from 2013-2019. He has participated in numerous other roles for both High School, Middle School, and Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl for more than a decade--including as coach, faculty advisor, and judge. He is excited to be bringing Ethics Bowl to Fordham.
Dr. Swartzer served on the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on Pre-College Philosophy. He has also organized and/or participated in hundreds of philosophy and ethics discussions for young children, high school students, incarcerated youth, GED students, and senior citizens. His public-facing work was recognized for excellence and innovation by the American Philosophical Association and Philosophy Documentation Center.