Jump to Footer

Dr. James Liszka

Professor of Philosophy

Portait of James LiszkaPhilosophy is relevant to our everyday lives. In some ways it is the most comprehensive study of life. Other disciplines focus on some aspect of the world. Biology studies living things, chemistry, the basic elements of matter and their interactions; astronomy, the laws of celestial bodies. But philosophy addresses issues and questions that help to organize our lives in meaningful ways, and provide a direction for good living. I’m particularly interested in how ethics can help us sort out many of our problems and give us proper guidance. Getting a good moral compass is just as important as finding a good career. It’s easy to get lost in the push and pull of all the social forces and pressures that we experience, but having a good guide gives us agency, and allows us to make better choices about what to do and what paths to take. It is better to have a good understanding of these things ahead of what we do, then to do things without such guidance, and live with the consequences of poor choices.


  • Ph.D. New School for Social Research

Teaching Areas

  • Ethics
  • Environmental Ethics

Research Areas

  • Ethics
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Pragmatism
  • Semiotics

Recent Publications & Presentations


  • The Problematics of Truth and Solidarity in Peirce’s Rhetoric. Semiotica (2017)
  • A Semiotic Theory of Tropes. Language and Semiotic Studies, 2(4), 18-36. (2016)
  • Peirce’s Idea of Ethics as a Normative Science. Charles S. Peirce Society Presidential Address. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 50(4), 459-479 (2014)
  • New Directions in Pragmatic Ethics. Cognitio, 14(1): 51-62. (2013)


  • The Semiotic of Myth: A Critical Study of the Symbol. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press (1989)
  • A General introduction to the Semeiotic of Charles S. Peirce. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press; translated into Chinese and Korean (1996)
  • Moral Competence. An Integrated Approach to the Study of Ethics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Prentice-Hall. (2002)

Community & Professional Service

  • Chair, Board of Trustees, Mt. Lake Public Broadcasting System, Plattsburgh, NY. 2016–present
  • Chair, Board of Trustees, Alaska Humanities Forum, 2010; board member, 2006–2011
  • Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, Alaska Conservation Fund; 2010; board member 2006–2012
  • President, The Charles Sanders Peirce Society 2013–2014; Vice-president 2012–2013
  • Board of Ethics, Municipality of Anchorage, 2004–2007
  • Editorial Boards: Chinese Studies in Semiotic, 2016–present; Language and Semiotic Studies, 2016 to present; Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society; 2010–present; Environmental Ethics, 2002–2012; The Peirce Seminar Papers, 2000–2010
  • Executive Board, Compassion in Dying, 2000
Back to top