Wan Zhang

Dissertation: Regret

Advisors: George Sher, Uriah Kriegel, Timothy Schroeder, Gwen Bradford

I work primarily in ethics, metaethics, and moral psychology. I’m also interested in philosophy of mind, aesthetics and Asian philosophy. Before I came to Rice as a PhD student, I published the Chinese translation of Mark Schroeder’s “Noncognitivism in Ethics” while I was completing an M.A. in Philosophy at Capital Normal University in China. Right now at Rice, I’m working towards the completion of my dissertation on regret. In my dissertation I defend an account of regret which takes a backward-looking, counterfactual wish as its essence. I further explore how we should understand what’s regrettable in light of how we understand regret itself. After that, I inquire whether we should “never regret”, a slogan cherished by both popular wisdom and some prominent philosophers. My view is that the slogan is indefensible either in relation to regret over moral (in)actions or in relation to regret over prudential (in)actions. But if a fully rational agent doesn’t need to purge regret from her mind, then how is she to live with regret, the common yet painful attitude? I give my answer to this question in the last chapter which focuses on living with regret.

Research Areas

Ethics, metaethics, moral psychology; philosophy of mind, aesthetics, Asian philosophy (esp. Chinese philosophy)


BA, Wuhan University


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