Melis Erdur

Melis Erdur, Post-doctoral fellow
Melis (Miri) Erdur received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the New York University in 2013.  In her dissertation A Moral Critique of Moral Philosophy, (which she wrote under the supervision of Professors David Velleman, Sharon Street and Hartry Field,) she criticizes the common assumption that moral discourse requires a particular sort of philosophical “ground”: a morally neutral account of rightness, wrongness, obligations and values, which ideally would provide final and all-embracing answers to questions such as “What in the end makes any moral statement true or false?” and “Why be moral?”  She argues that questions about the nature of morality must (and this is a moral must – she insists) be answered from a primarily substantive moral point of view, rather than a metaphysical, epistemological or semantic one.

Melis believes that canonical Jewish texts – the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud – offer us a philosophical framework that does justice to the gravity of fundamental questions about morality.  These texts are clearly deeply interested in what we owe to each other, why we owe it to each other, and how we can know that we owe it to each other.  However, they deal with those questions from a primarily moral (as opposed to metaphysical, conceptual, etc.) perspective, and in such a way that does not trivialize them, explain them away, or turn them into such abstractions that we end up forgetting why it was important to ask them in the first place.  Her current project is thus to articulate how the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud achieve this, as well as what exactly is so right about it.

Melis grew up in Izmir, Turkey, and got her B.A. in philosophy and mathematics and then her M.A. in philosophy from Bogazici University in Istanbul.  She now lives (very happily) in Tel Aviv.