Skip to main content

William Bauer

Assoc Teaching Professor

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Withers Hall 434A


Bauer joined the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at NC State in the fall of 2010. Previously, he was at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was awarded both the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship (2005-2007) and the Hinman Graduate Fellowship (2008-2009) while completing a PhD in Philosophy. Before that, he finished an MA in Philosophy at Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio), served as a US Army officer for about six and a half years, and completed a BA in Biology (minor in Philosophy) with Honors at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Before that, he was born, raised, and attended public schools in Arizona.

Bauer’s primary areas of research and teaching interests include the metaphysics of science (an area of study with equal footing in metaphysics and the philosophy of science) and applied ethics (especially bioethics and the ethics of AI). He has published papers on the nature of mass, dispositional properties, personal identity, scientific reasoning, and artificial moral agents. His interests in metaphysics overlap with problems of bioethics (e.g., personhood as related to beginning-of-life issues, and theory of mind as it relates to animal welfare) and AI (e.g., questions about agency, identity, and intentionality). At NC State, Bauer has had the privilege to teach Introduction to Philosophy, Thinking Logically, Bio-Medical Ethics, and Introduction to Research Ethics (graduate level).

Bauer states that “I really enjoy discussions with everyone taking my courses, both in and out of class. I intend for my courses to be places of exploration, where together we map out argumentative territory, explore and critique new possibilities, and attempt to better understand the relationship between the world, the self, and values.”

Extension and Community Engagement

Numerous presentations to student groups on and off campus, concerning bioethics and related topics: e.g., “Bioethics, Logic, and the Trolley Problem” (Wake STEM Early College High School), “Animal Ethics: A Primer” (Goodnight Scholars and Women In Science & Engineering)

Published a short article for a general audience called “Why Science Needs Philosophy” in Life as a Human in May 2015.

Served as the Scholar in Residence at the University Honors Village from fall 2011 to spring 2014, leading numerous lunchtime and evening discussions on a variety of topics in logic, ethics, and metaphysics.

Presented “Personal Identity and Survival” at a meeting of Triangle Philosophy in May 2012.


Office Hours

Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Research Publications



Causal Powers and the Intentionality Continuum. W. A. Bauer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2022).

Summary from back cover: “Why does anything happen? What is the best account of natural necessity? In this book, William A. Bauer presents and defends a comprehensive account of the internal structure of causal powers that incorporates physical intentionality and information. Bauer explores new lines of thought concerning the theory of pure powers (powerful properties devoid of any qualitative nature), the place of mind in the physical world, and the role of information in explaining fundamental processes. He raises probing questions about physical modality and fundamental properties, and explores the possibility that physical reality and the mind are unified through intentionality. His book will be valuable for researchers and students working in metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind.”

Edited Volume

Artificial Dispositions: Investigating Ethical and Metaphysical Issues. W. A. Bauer and A. Marmodoro. New York: Bloomsbury Academic (2024).

Summary from back cover: “We inhabit a world not only full of natural dispositions independent of human design, but also artificial dispositions created by our technological prowess. How do these dispositions, found in automation, computation, and artificial intelligence applications, differ metaphysically from their natural counterparts? This collection investigates artificial dispositions: what they are, the roles they play in artificial systems, and how they impact our understanding of the nature of reality, the structure of minds, and the ethics of emerging technologies. It is divided into four parts covering the following interconnected themes: (i) Artificial and Natural Dispositions, (ii) Artificial Systems and Their Dispositions, (iii) Agency, Mind, and Artificial Dispositions, and (iv) Artificial Moral Dispositions. This is a groundbreaking and thought-provoking resource for any student or scholar of philosophy of science, contemporary metaphysics, applied ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of technology.”

Guest-Edited Special Issue

AI & Society Special Issue on Embedding AI in Society. Dubljević, V., W. A. Bauer, G. List, D. Orcutt, M. P. Singh (Eds.). (2023).

Articles (if multiple authors, my name is bolded; otherwise, I am the sole author)

Embedding AI in society: ethics, policy, governance, and impacts. M. Pflanzer, V. Dubljevic, W. A. Bauer, D. Orcutt, G. List, M. P. Singh. Editorial introduction to AI & Society Special Issue on Embedding AI in Society (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s00146-023-01704-2

Autonomous Vehicles and the Basic Structure of Society. V. Dubljević and W. A. Bauer. Autonomous Vehicles Ethics: Beyond the Trolley Problem, R. Jenkins, D. Černý, T. Hříbek (Eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press (2022).

Moral and social ramifications of autonomous vehicles: a qualitative study of the perceptions of professional drivers. Dubljević, V., S. Douglas, J. Milojevich, N. Ajmeri, W. A. Bauer, G. List, M. P. Singh. Behaviour & Information Technology (2022). DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2022.2070078

Toward a rational and ethical sociotechnical system of autonomous vehicles: A novel application of multi-criteria decision analysis. Dubljevic, V., G. List, J. Milojevich, N. Ajmeri, W. A. Bauer, M. P. Singh, E. Bardaka, T. A. Birkland, C. H. W. Edwards, R. C. Mayer, I. Muntean, T. M. Powers, H. A. Rakha, V. A. Ricks, M. Shoaib Samandar. PLOS ONE (2021). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0256224

Expanding Nallur’s Landscape of Machine Implemented Ethics. W. A. Bauer. Science and Engineering Ethics (2020). DOI: 10.1007/s11948-020-00237-x

AI Assistants and the Paradox of Internal Automaticity. W. A. Bauer and V. Dubljević. Neuroethics (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s12152-019-09423-6

Virtuous vs. Utilitarian Artificial Moral Agents. W. A. Bauer. AI & Society (2018). DOI: 10.1007/s00146-018-0871-3

Powers and the Pantheistic Problem of Unity. W. A. Bauer. Sophia (2018). DOI: 10.1007/s11841-018-0654-9

Getting It Together: Psychological Unity and Deflationary Accounts of Animal Metacognition. G. Comstock and W. A. Bauer. Acta Analytica 33(4): 431-451 (2018). DOI: 10.1007/s12136-018-0340-0

Against Branching Identity. W. A. Bauer. Philosophia 45(4): 1709-1719 (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s11406-017-9870-8

Physical Intentionality, Extrinsicness, and the Direction of Causation. W. A. Bauer. Acta Analytica 31(4): 397-417 (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s12136-016-0283-2

Why Science Needs Philosophy. W. A. Bauer. Life as a Human (May 17, 2015).

Scientific Reasoning Can Be Circular. W. A. Bauer. The Reasoner, 8(1): 4-5 (2014).

Review of the The Triple Helix: The Soul of Bioethics by Lisa Bellantoni. W. A. Bauer. Metapsychology Online Reviews 17(20) (2013)

Dispositional Essentialism and the Nature of Powerful Properties. W. A. Bauer. Disputatio: International Journal of Philosophy 5(35): 1-19 (2013).

Four Theories of Pure Dispositions. W. A. Bauer. Properties, Powers and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism, edited by Alexander Bird, Brian Ellis, and Howard Sankey, Routledge (2012).

An Argument for the Extrinsic Grounding of Mass. W. A. Bauer. Erkenntnis: An International Journal of Scientific Philosophy, 74(1): 81-99 (2011). DOI: 10.1007/s10670-010-9269-4

Attributing Knowledge of the Virtues of Contextualism. W. A. Bauer. The Reasoner, 2(8): 6-7 (2008).


Ph.D. Philosophy University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2010

M.A. Philosophy Miami University-Oxford, Ohio 2005

M.A. Humanities California State University-Dominguez Hills 2001

B.A. w/Honors Biology Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago) 1996

Area(s) of Expertise

Metaphysics; Philosophy of Science; Applied Ethics

  • Outstanding Lecturer Award, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2019-2020