Lara Buchak

Professor of Philosophy, On Leave, Fall 2020
Email Address:
Office Location: 
1879 Hall, Room 212

Lara Buchak is Professor of Philosophy.  Her research interests include decision theory, social choice theory, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of religion. Her book Risk and Rationality (2013) concerns how an individual ought to take risk into account when making decisions. It vindicates the ordinary decision-maker from the point of view of even ideal rationality. A significant upshot of her view is that individuals with different attitudes towards risk—considered as different ways to weight worse scenarios against better ones—can all be rational. Her research following the book has focused on applications of her view to ethics, arguing that we ought to defer to individuals’ risk-attitudes in biomedical research; that we ought to weight worse scenarios very heavily in setting climate policy; and that we ought to care a great deal about the interests of the worse-off when acting ethically. Another ongoing project is on the nature and rationality of faith, both in the religious and mundane sense. She argues that faith requires stopping one's search for evidence and making a commitment--and maintaining one's commitment in the face of counterevidence. She details when such faith is rational, and how it is beneficial to human life. Other topics she has written on include group decision-making; the relationship between assigning probability to a hypothesis and believing that hypothesis outright; and the nature of free will.

Buchak received her Ph.D. from Princeton in 2009.  She spent 12 years in the Philosophy Department at UC Berkeley before returning to Princeton.