Lani Roberts (Ph.D., B.A., Philosophy, University of Oregon) was a faculty member in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University from spring 1989 through spring 2011. She has retired and moved east of the Cascades, back home to the Columbia Gorge where her family settled in the 1860s.
Roberts’ philosophical interests centered on ethical theory generally and, specifically, understanding our human propensity to harm each other, individually as well as in social groups. Ethics, for Roberts, has the aim of helping "people realize what they are doing when they injure others" (Josiah Royce). Her teaching included courses in moral philosophy at the undergraduate and graduate level, Ethics of Diversity and Feminist Philosophies. Her courses reflected her belief in the pragmatic applicability of philosophy to everyday life. She was also affiliated faculty in Women Studies and Ethnic Studies.
Roberts' research interests primarily involve examination of the shared epistemology and theoretical structures of the "isms" as well as problems in feminist theory. She wants to understand the role of individual moral complicity in the maintenance of social injustices, especially having to do with how we practice self-deception in regards to our virtues or lack thereof.
During her time in the Philosophy Department, Professor Roberts directed the Graduate Program, coordinated the Applied Ethics Certificate, and directed the OSU Peace Studies Program. She was a founding member of Faculty and Staff for Peace and Justice at OSU, and a member of AFAPC (Association of Faculty for the Advancement of People of Color).
She is the author of "Duty, Virtue and the Victim's Voice" in Duties to Others, edited by colleague Courtney Campbell. "One Oppression or Many?" and "Barriers to Feeling and Actualizing Compassion," both were published in The Journal of Philosophy in the Contemporary World. Roberts served as co-editor of this journal from 2004 to 2011. She has also published chapters in two books, one on the rationale and structure of classes in the Difference, Power and Discrimination baccalaureate core at OSU, “Course Rationale, Criteria, and Design,” in Teaching for Change: the Difference, Power and Discrimination Model, and, secondly, with Ed Edmo, “Celilo Falls: Parallel Lives Along N’Che Wana,” in Seeing Color: Indigenous People and Racialized Ethnic Minorities in Oregon.
Roberts was a Master Teacher in the College of Liberal Arts, was the 1997 recipient of the College's Meehan Award for Excellence in Teaching and twice was named a Mortar Board Top Prof. She was awarded Oregon State University's Dar Reese Excellence in Advising Award in 2001 and the Martin Luther King Jr. Exemplary Service Award in 2003 and 2006. Roberts taught regularly in the Oregon State University Honors College, having also served as visiting faculty the Honors College’s first two years.
Maintaining the connection between philosophy in theory and in practice, Roberts actively participated in the campus and local communities, including service on the advisory board of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, and standing with Women in Black. She also provided consultation services to government organizations and corporations on diversity issues. As an Oregon Council for the Humanities Chautauqua speaker, she presented three talks around the state of Oregon: "Diversity: From the Idea to the Practice," "Ethics 101," and "The Idea of Justice.” She has also served as a Conversation Facilitator for Oregon Humanities, on “Moral Self-Deception,” and, with colleague Courtney Campbell, she co-facilitated discussions on “Varieties of Friendship.” In 2006, she was interviewed by The Oregonian about these lectures and the topic of Ethics and Diversity in the Public Sphere - you can read that full article here.
While at Oregon State University, Professor Roberts worked toward two primary goals: professionally, being a responsibly provocative philosopher and, personally, practicing what she taught.