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Melvin Chen


person name Position: Postgraduate Researcher Email:
Area: Philosophy

PhD Research

My thesis seeks to defend literary ethics, an ethical position I understand to follow from the narrative theory of the self. It uses a narrative theory of the self to motivate ethical theory, and defends the narrative theory of the self as a semantic thesis that attempts to make sense of who we are and to render intelligible what we might be held morally responsible for. Literary ethics is grounded in a semi-compatibilism that holds moral responsibility to be possible even though the metaphysical thesis of determinism might be incompatible with the metaphysical thesis of freedom of will. Literary ethics is further grounded in care, or the nexus of relationships in which we find ourselves in our respective life-stories, and the imagination, insofar as we imagine the telos for each of our own first-order narratives and imagine de se or from the inside of other second-order narratives.


Ethics - Anti-Theory, Feminist Ethics of Care, Meta-Ethics

Metaphysics - Semi-Compatibilism, Ontological Anti-Realism, Deflationism

Semantics - Narrative Theory of the Self

Aesthetics – Imaginative Resistance

Philosophy of Science – Agential Realism, Anti-Realism

Non-Western Philosophy – Nagarjuna, Madhyamaka Buddhism

Literature – Henrik Ibsen, James Joyce, LGBT, Magic Realism, Postcolonialism, Literary Theory

Law – Environmental Law, Law and Literature Movement, Models of the Criminal Process, Victim's Rights

Supervisor: Alessandra Tanesini, Peter Sedgwick

Academic Background

M.A. in Ibsen Studies – University of Oslo, 2010-2012 (Average Grade: A; Perfect Score)

B.A. in Literature in English – National University of Singapore, 2007-2010 (Average Grade: A+)
Awarded: Best in Literature in English; Dean’s List

National Service Probationary Inspector – Singapore Police Force, 2003-2005
Awarded: Sword of Merit; Best in Academic Studies; Commissioner of Police Essay Competition Runner-Up



'The Religion of Yesterday, the Atheism of Today and the Philosophy of the Future: Ontological Anti-Realism, Lightweight Realism and Buddhism as the Middle Path,' in Journal of General Philosophy (Global Science and Technological Forum), 2014, Vol. 1 No. 1. doi: 10.5176/0000-0001_1.1.9. Available at:

'An Axe for the Frozen Sea: Estrin's Magic Agential Realism, Insect Thigmotaxis, and the Problem with Kafka,' in Antae (Malta: University of Malta Press), 2014, Vol. 1 No. 2, 79-92
Available at:

'Is Ethics Nonsense? The Imagination, and the Spirit against the Limit,' in Philosophy and Literature (America: John Hopkins University Press), forthcoming

'Strawson contra Strawson: Moral Responsibility and Semi-Compatibilism,' in The Philosophical Forum (America: Wiley-Blackwell), 2014, 45: 1–15. doi: 10.1111/phil.12024.
Available at:

'The Birth, Death, and Afterlife of the God of the Philosophers' in Filosofisk Supplement (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget), 2010


'The (Im)possibility of Filming Ibsen' in Proceedings for the XIIIth International Ibsen Conference (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget), forthcoming


'Ekphrases' (poetry about Rothko, Picasso, and Klimt), in Tipton Poetry Journal (America: Brick Street Poetry Inc.), 2013

Conferences, Symposia and Seminars

'The Religion of Yesterday, the Atheism of Today and the Philosophy of the Future. Ontological Anti-Realism, Lightweight Realism and Buddhism as the Middle Path,' in Singapore PYTT Conference (Global Science and Technology Forum), 2013

'Insect Writing,' in Writing Life Symposium (University of Malta), 2013

'The Fly in the Fly-Bottle,' Gregynog Conference (Cardiff University), 2013

'The (Im)possibility of Filming Ibsen,' in The XXXth International Ibsen Conference (University of Tromsø), 2012

Organizing Committee Member & Poster Designer, Voice of the Humanities Conference (Cardiff University), 2013

'The Challenge  of Search Engine Bias: Trust, Belief, and Faith in the  Age  of  Google' (co-authored with Barbora Valockova), in the ​2014 Web and Philosophy: Ethics, Logic and Law conference (University of Macedonia), 2014


Postgraduate Tutor at ENCAP (Cardiff University), 2013-2015

'Mind, Thought and Reality' and 'Moral and Political Philosophy'


Artwork on Saatchi Online: