What were your favorite philosophy courses at UCLA?
Existentialism was pretty cool. And Philosophy of History.
Do you have a good story or two about the department?
My first class was taught by a graduate student, Bob Wachbrit. He wore jeans and a plain white t-shirt to class every day, and wore his hair and beard long, like Jesus. I remember thinking, okay — philosophy — this is pretty radical!
I took an upper division Ethics class from Philippa Foot. I had literally no clue what a giant she was in Moral Philosophy and I was so naive and full of myself, in my belief that all systems of morality were simply subjective and relativistic, that I got my worst grade at UCLA in her class. And I totally deserved it. The irony is that I’ve written a stage play that involves her Trolley Problem and a fictional relative of hers, so I have tremendous and newfound respect for her.
Are there any philosophical issues, readings, or topics that have stayed with you since graduation?
I think about philosophy all the time, especially political philosophy. But as I’m currently writing a book about centrism and partisan dysfunction in politics I guess that makes sense.
What lessons or skills from philosophy do you use in your career?
Logic and critical thinking were of course tremendously useful for law school and after, although I’m not a litigator but more of a business lawyer. But I’m a big believer in a liberal arts education in general.