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Andrew McAninch, Ph.D. - Milwaukee School of Engineering. Milwaukee, WI, US

Andrew McAninch, Ph.D. Andrew McAninch, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor | Milwaukee School of Engineering


Dr. Andrew McAninch is an expert applied ethics (bioethics, engineering, digital tech and AI), and social/ political philosophy.

Education, Licensure and Certification (2)

Ph.D.: Philosophy, Indiana University Bloomington 2012

B.A.: Philosophy and English, The University of Iowa 2001


Dr. Andrew McAninch is an assistant professor of philosophy in the Humanities, Social Science, and Communication Department at MSOE. He earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy and English from the University of Iowa and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Indiana University Bloomington.

Prior to joining MSOE in 2016, McAninch was a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was formerly an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Humanities. He also served as program director with the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he supported research and programming initiatives and directed the day-to-day operations of the Center. He also was a visiting assistant professor at Illinois Wesleyan University.

McAninch works in moral philosophy, broadly construed, and also has interests in areas of applied ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of science. At MSOE, he teaches Ethics for Managers and Engineers, Bioethics, and Philosophy of Mind and AI.

Areas of Expertise (10)

Political Philosophy

Ethics of Digital Technologies and Artificial Intelligence


Moral Philosophy



Applied Ethics


Engineering Ethics

Social Philosophy

Accomplishments (3)

Outstanding Associate Instructor Award

Department of Philosophy, Indiana University 2008

College Scholar Award

College of Liberal Arts, The University of Iowa

Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society



Event and Speaking Appearances (5)

Two Perspectives on the Value of Deliberative Reasoning

Illinois Philosophical Association Annual Conference  Normal, IL, 2019

Recent Adventures in Engineering Ethics

Professional Engineers Advancing Knowledge (PEAK) Education Seminars  MSOE

What is the Value of Deliberation?

3rd Annual Tennessee Value and Agency Conference: Reason, Sentiment, and Sensibility in the Moral Life  University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

What is the Value of Deliberation?

Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress  University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

Evolution and the Value of Deliberative Reasoning

40th Conference on Value Inquiry: Evolution and the Foundations of Ethics  Neumann University, Aston, PA

Research Grants (3)

Philosophy of Mind and Artificial Intelligence

MSOE Course Development Grant $2400


Thank You for Your Service Screening

University of Pennsylvania Campaign for Community Grant $1000


Producing Leaders of Character and Integrity: Instilling Value into Public Life

University of Pennsylvania University Research Foundation Impact Seminar Grant $8000


Selected Publications (4)

Moral Distress, Moral Injury, and Moral Luck

The American Journal of Bioethics

McAninch, A.

2016 Moral Distress, Moral Injury, and Moral Luck unacceptable course of action. Vague speculation, groundless fears, and imaginary devils do not justify knowingly doing the wrong thing. By the same token, additional information can markedly change the picture, lending credibility to actions that formerly appeared unacceptable. Equally important, one should search for viable, reduced risk avenues for accomplishing the moral objective. Quite possibly, other team members are also uncomfortable. Thoughtful conversation and …

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Activity, Passivity, and Normative Avowal

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly

McAninch, A.

2015 The idea that agents can be active with respect to some of their actions, and passive with respect to others, is a widely held assumption within moral philosophy. But exactly how to characterize these notions is controversial. I argue that an agent is active just in case (A) her action is one whose motive she can truly avow as reason‐giving, or (B) her action is one whose motive she can disavow, provided her disavowal effects appropriate modifications in her future motives. This view maintains a link between activity, reason‐responsiveness, and answerability, while avoiding commitments to an implausible theory of motivation.

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Acting for a Reason and Following a Principle

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

McAninch, A.

2015 According to an influential view of practical reason and rational agency, a person acts for a reason only if she recognizes some consideration to be a reason, where this recognition motivates her to act. I call this requirement the guidance condition on acting for a reason. Despite its intuitive appeal, the guidance condition appears to generate a vicious regress. At least one proponent of the guidance condition, Christine M. Korsgaard, is sensitive to this regress worry, and her appeal in recent work to the constitutive principles of action can be seen, in part, as a response to it. I argue, however, that if we are to appeal to the constitutive principles of action to resolve the regress, then we must determine whether acting on such principles is also subject to the guidance condition. This raises a dilemma. If following these principles is subject to the guidance condition, then the regress remains unresolved. But if not, then the rationale for applying it to acting for a reason vanishes as well. I conclude that we should embrace an account of acting for a reason that rejects the guidance condition.

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Animal Communication and Neo-Expressivism

The Philosophy of Animal Minds

McAninch, A., Goodrich, G., Allen, C.

2009 One of the earliest issues in cognitive ethology concerned the meaning of animal signals. In the 1970s and 1980s this debate was most active with respect to the question of whether animal alarm calls convey information about the emotional states of animals or whether they “refer” directly to predators in the environment (Seyfarth, Cheney, & Marler 1980; see Radick 2007 for a historical account), but other areas, such as vocalizations about food and social contact, were also widely discussed.

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