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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Philosophy

Meet faculty and staff in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Denver.

Faculty & Staff

Michael Brent

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    Michael Brent

Assistant Professor
Sturm Hall 260
2000 E. Asbury Ave.
Web: My Website / Twitter / PhilPeople 

Areas of Expertise/Research interests

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Action & Agency
  • Philosophy of Mind

Current Research and projects

My present research is focused on central metaphysical issues that arise at the intersection of philosophy of action and philosophy of mind.  The guiding thread that unites much of my current work is the notion of effort.  A paper defending an account of bodily action in which your exerting effort plays an ineliminable causal role in every action that you perform has been published in the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

I am also interested in the under-explored notion of mental action.  With Matt Soteriou, I organized an international conference on the topic of mental action and the metaphysics of mind, generously hosted by the Institute of Philosophy in London, UK.  I am editing a book on the topic, provisionally titled Mental Action and the Conscious Mind, under contract with Routledge, UK. 

An interview in which I discuss my current work can be found at the American Philosophical Association blog.

I edit the Mental Actions, Agency, Action Theory, and Philosophy of Action categories in the PhilPapers project and have contributed to the recently shuttered Flickers of Freedom blog.

Professional biography

I joined the Department of Philosophy in fall 2014, after spending two years as a Bradley Postdoctoral Fellow at Carthage College. I completed my PhD in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University and my undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto.

During my graduate studies, I won the Preceptor Award for Teaching Excellence in Contemporary Civilization and was a Finalist for the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by Graduate Students, a University-wide competition amongst all graduate students teaching at Columbia.


PhD, Columbia University
MA, Columbia University
BA, University of Toronto (Honours with High Distinction)


" Meditation and the Scope of Mental Action " (w. Candace L. Upton),  Philosophical Psychology, Vol. 32 (2019), pp. 52-71

"Confessions of a Deluded Westerner", Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Vol. 25 (2018), pp. 689-713

Review of M. Vargas & G. Yaffe (eds.), "Rational and Social Agency: The Philosophy of Michael Bratman", Journal of Moral Philosophy, Vol. 15 (2018), pp. 371-374

"Agent Causation as a Solution to the Problem of Action", Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 47 (2017), pp. 656-673

"Understanding Strength of Will" in New Advances in Causation, Agency, and Moral Responsibility , edited by F. Bacchini, S. Caputo, and M. Dell'Utri (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), pp. 165-178 

"Effort and the Standard Story of Action" in Philosophical Writings, Special Issue (2012), pp. 19-27

edited book

Mental Action and the Conscious Mind, Routledge, UK (under contract)