James was an undergraduate at Oxford and a Henry Fellow at Yale before completing his graduate studies in theological ethics back at Oxford. His DPhil, Ethics at the Beginning of Life, was published by Oxford University Press. From 2013-2017 James worked and taught at the University of Virginia (UVa), situated at the University's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Fascinating and frustrated in equal measure by the politicization of moral issues, his second book, Vexed: Ethics Beyond Political Tribes, published this year by Bloomsbury, focuses on the need to extricate moral deliberation from ideological "package deals" - the bundles of issues and stances on both the Left and the Right.
James's visiting fellowship at the McDonald Centre will be focused on the interface of ethics and psychology. What account of morality is proffered by social psychologists? What status do they accord to right and wrong? How do various clinical psychological schools make sense of phenoma such as guilt? What picture of the world is betrayed by the language of 'choosing values'? And what difference do the answers to any of these questions make to how we think about self-transformation?
In addition to this scholarly work James writes on a range of issues - ethical, cultural, literary - for a variety of publications including The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, The New Statesman, Standpoint, The Spectator, UnHerd, The Daily Telegraph, The Atlantic and The Hedgehog Review.