My full name is Joshua August Skorburg, but I go by “Gus”.
I'm currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Co-Academic Director of the Centre for Advancing Responsible and Ethical Artificial Intelligence (CARE-AI). I am also a Faculty Affiliate at the One Health Institute.
I moved to the University of Guelph in January 2020. I came from Duke University, where I taught ethics in the Interdisciplinary Data Science program and the Quantitative Management program in the Fuqua School of Business. I received my PhD in Philosophy from the University of Oregon in 2017. Before my graduate study in philosophy, I worked briefly in television news. Outside of work, I enjoy cycling, weightlifting, basketball, tennis, camping, bluegrass, beer, and cats.
In general, I work on a wide range of topics in applied ethics (bioethics, AI ethics, neuroethics, business ethics) and moral psychology (virtue theory, philosophy of cognitive science, experimental philosophy). Much of my published work has explored the philosophical implications of our interdependence with other agents and with information technology.
At present, I’m working on several projects involving the ethical, legal, and social implications of data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. More specifically, I’m interested in how these technologies have given rise to new methods (such as mHealth, digital phenotyping, computational psychiatry, computational social science, etc.) which may or may not fit into existing ethical and epistemological frameworks.
I also maintain active interests and collaborations in more “traditional” philosophical areas like virtue ethics, virtue epistemology, American pragmatism, and the philosophy of mind/cognitive science.
Recently Funded Projects
The epidemic within the pandemic: Ethical and legal issues in digital mental health responses to COVID-19
Description: Social distancing is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. But the knock-on effects of social distancing (economic recession, less community support, more stress) are risk factors for mental illness. This project addresses what has been called “the mental health epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic.” Before the pandemic, demand for mental health services outstripped the supply of clinicians. In the pandemic’s wake, we will face difficult questions about how to provide mental health services to everyone who needs them. A natural solution is "digital psychiatry", which advocates for things like tele-medicine, smartphone therapy, automated analysis of social media posts, or symptom monitoring via smartwatches. Many services have recently and rapidly migrated to these digital platforms. However, relatively little is known about the efficacy of these digital approaches to mental health. This project aims to understand better the efficacy of digital psychiatry, so that ethical and legal implications can be properly assesed.
- PhD Philosophy, University of Oregon (2013-2017)
- MA Philosophy, University of Toledo (2010-2012)
- BS Journalism, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (2006-2009)
- Duke University Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Philosophy, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Social Science Research Institute (2018-2019)
- Duke University Adjunct Professor, Fuqua School of Business (2018- )
(Where available, I have linked to the PhilPapers Index below. But if you are unable to access any of my papers, just e-mail me and I will happily send you a .pdf)
Journal Articles (* denotes advisee)
- Yam, J.V.* & Skorburg, J.A. (forthcoming). From human resources to human rights: Impact assessments for hiring algorithms. Ethics and Information Technology.
- Skorburg, J.A. & Yam, J.V.* (forthcoming) Is there an app for that?: Ethical issues in the digital mental health response to COVID-19. Target article in AJOB: Neuroscience [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. & Friesen, P. (forthcoming). Mind the gaps: Ethical and epistemic issues in the digital mental health response to COVID-19. Hastings Center Report.
- Sinnott-Armstrong, W. & Skorburg, J.A. (forthcoming). How AI can AID bioethics. Journal of Practical Ethics. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. (2020). What counts as 'clinical data' in machine learning healthcare applications? American Journal of Bioethics, 20(11), 27-30. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A., Sinnott-Armstrong, W., Conitzer, V. (2020). AI methods in bioethics. American Journal of Bioethics: Empirical Bioethics, 11(1), 37-39. [link]
- Everett, J.A.C., Skorburg, J.A., & Savulescu, J. (2020). The moral self and moral duties. Philosophical Psychology, 33(7), 924-945. [link]
- Morar, N. & Skorburg, J.A. (2020, co-first authors). Why we never eat alone: The overlooked role of microbes and partners in obesity debates in bioethics. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 17(1), 435–448 [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. (2019). Where are virtues? Philosophical Studies, 176(9), 2331-2349. [link]
- Earp, B., Skorburg, J.A., Everett, J.A.C., Savulescu, J. (2019). Addiction, identity, morality. American Journal of Bioethics: Empirical Bioethics, 10(2), 136-153. [link]
- Morar, N. & Skorburg, J.A. (2018, co-first authors). Bioethics and the hypothesis of extended health. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 28(3), 341-376. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. (2017). Jane Addams as experimental philosopher. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 26(5), 918-938. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. (2017). Lessons and new directions for extended cognition from social and personality psychology. Philosophical Psychology, 30(4), 458-480. [link]
- Morar, N. & Skorburg, J.A. (2017). Relational agency: Yes - but how far? American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, 8(2), 83-85. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. (2017). Review of Chris Abel, “The extended self: Architecture, memes, and minds”. Environmental Philosophy, 14(1), 151-53. [link]
- Morar, N. & Skorburg, J.A. (2016). Toward an ecological bioethics. American Journal of Bioethics, 16(5), 35-37. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. (2013). Beyond embodiment: John Dewey and the integrated mind. The Pluralist, 8(3), 66-78. [link]
- Everett, J.A.C., Skorburg, J.A. & Livingston, J.L. (forthcoming). Me, my (moral) self, and I. In In F. DeBrigard & W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Eds.) Neuroscience and Philosophy, 111-138. MIT Press.
- Skorburg, J.A. & Friesen, P. (forthcoming). Ethical issues in text mining for mental health. In M. Dehghani & R. Boyd (Eds.) The Atlas of Language Analysis in Psychology. Guilford Press. [link]
- Nadelhoffer, T., Graves, R., Skorburg, J.A., Leary, M., & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2020). Partisanship, Humility, and Polarization. In M.P. Lynch & A. Tanesini (Eds.) Polarisation, Arrogance, and Dogmatism: Philosophical Perspectives, 175-192. Routledge. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2020). Some ethics of deep brain stimulation. In D. Stein & I. Singh (Eds.) Global Mental Health and Neuroethics, 117-132. London: Elsevier. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. & Alfano, M. (2018). Implications for virtue epistemology from psychological science: Intelligence as an interactionist virtue. In H. Battaly (Ed.), Handbook of Virtue Epistemology, 433-445. New York: Routledge. [link]
- Alfano, M. & Skorburg, J.A. (2017). Extended knowledge, the recognition heuristic, and epistemic injustice. In D. Pritchard et al. (Eds.), Extended Epistemology, 239-256. Oxford University Press. [link]
- Skorburg, J.A. (2016). Pragmatism, embodiment, extension. In R. Madzia & M. Jung (Eds.), Pragmatism and Embodied Cognitive Science: From Bodily Intersubjectivity to Symbolic Articulation, 33-54. Berlin: De Gruyter. [link]
- Alfano, M. & Skorburg, J.A. (2016). The embedded and extended character hypotheses. In J. Kiverstein (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the Social Mind, 465-478. New York: Routledge. [link]
Virtual Office Hours: By appointment
Upcoming courses (Winter 2022)
- PHIL 3370: Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
- PHIL 6760: Science & Ethics
Previously taught undergraduate courses
- PHIL 2120: Ethics
- PHIL 3290: Advanced Ethical Theory
Previously taught graduate courses
- PHIL 6760: Science & Ethics
Recent and Upcoming Talks
“Human rights, human resources, and hiring algorithms” at the Hoffman Center for Business Ethics, Bentley University
“Don’t believe the hype: Ethical and epistemic issues in digital health” at the Bioethics Interest Group, National Institutes of Health
"Extended Health" at the University of Maine Institute of Medicine: Microbes and Social Equality Speaker Series.
“Digital Mental Health Responses to COVID-19: Some Anticipatory Ethical Analyses” at the 10th Annual Western Michigan University Medical Humanities Conference (with Josephine Yam)