Dr. Castro's research includes two tracks.

One track follows her graduate work, which is centered in Kant scholarship and informed by current science, with a broadly interdisciplinary aim. She is currently working on a book about Kant's metaethics, specifically how to establish a metaphysics of morals as a non-empirical science. More broadly in this track, Dr. Castro is interested in the family of phenomena involved in acting or cognizing as if, in a wide range of contexts that include an imagination-centered Kantian theory of autism, algorithmic agency and social justice, cognitive shifts in philosophy of humor, Immanuel Kant’s peculiar moral imperative to "act as if your maxim were to become by your will a universal law of nature" (aka Kant's formula of nature), and Japanese philosophy of art (mastery and performance in renga and Noh).

The second track in Biomedical Humanities derives from taking a philosophical perspective towards her work on the Human Genome Project at UCLA and support work for the Jefferson Institute of Molecular Medicine. This track includes current issues in philosophy of medicine and cyberethics. She serves as the founding Director of The Academic Center for Biomedical and Health Humanities (HealthHum), which will support collaboration from campus to community in conjunction with the downtown Wichita Biomedical Campus.

At WSU Professor Castro has taught Late Modern Philosophy, Metaethics, Ethical Theory, Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of Feminism, Philosophy of the Arts, Business Ethics, Philosophy of Humor, Ethics and Computers, and Ethics of Big Data. In Spring 2024 Dr. Castro is teaching PHIL 386 Biomedical Engineering Ethics, PHIL 354 Ethics and Computers, and a Lifelong Learning course for seniors 65+ PHIL 150AI Ethics of Big Data and AI.

Course flyer showing a robot torso holding a strand of DNA and a small robot holding a shock of wheat


Academic Interests and Expertise

B.A. Mathematics--Applied Science, Specialization in Computing, summa cum laude, UCLA 1993
Ph.D. Philosophy, UCLA 2006

I began my career in bioinformatics, before it was called 'bioinformatics', as a programmer and SysAdmin for the Human Genome Project core facility at UCLA. Recognizing that my undergraduate degree didn't adequately prepare me for the philosophical problems of the work, I turned to philosophy for help understanding things like the nature of homology and function, and the ethics of gene patenting. Somehow I ended up studying Immanuel Kant, who rather predates the discovery of the double-helix. Between grad school and WSU I worked for three years at the Jefferson Institute of Molecular Medicine, Division of Connective Tissue diseases (grants and manuscripts; no benchwork or patient care).

Today I can't claim to be an expert in bioinformatics or cell signaling or microbiomes, but I'm certainly interested. I like systems of all kinds. Mostly I'm interested in cognitive activities like ethical agency, scientific reasoning, and artistic performance.

Areas of Research Interest
  • Immanuel Kant's philosophy, from logic to aesthetics
  • Cognizing as if (hypothetical reasoning, stage/film acting, fiction immersion, acting as 'we' in joint activity and cooperation, idealization in science, or otherwise 'giving oneself objects in imagination' a la Kant)
  • Biomedical and Health Humanities
  • Ethics and social justice
  • Digital Transformations (big data, AI, algorithms and analytics)
  • Japanese philosophy
  • Philosophy of science (primarily math, biology, medicine, chemistry)
Areas of Teaching Interest
  • Ethics: Metaethics, Ethical Theory, History of Ethics, Business Ethics, Ethics and Computers, Ethics of Big Data, Data Ethics for Professionals, Biomedical Engineering Ethics
  • History of Philosophy: Late Modern Philosophy, Kant
  • Philosophy of the Disciplines: Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Medicine
  • Perspectives: Philosophy of Feminism, Philosophy of the Arts, Philosophy of Humor
  • First Year Seminars: On Humor, Law

Fall 2024:

  • PHIL 354 Ethics and Computers
  • PHIL 360 Ethical Theory
  • (possibly) PHIL 386 Biomedical Engineering Ethics

Spring 2024:

  • PHIL 354 Ethics and Computers
  • PHIL 386 Biomedical Engineering Ethics

Upcoming Talks

"Algorithmic Humor" February 2024, American Philosophical Association, Central Division.

Abstract: For decades the internet has been littered with found humor generated by naughty autocorrect glitches and spontaneous incongruities. This year generative AI based on large language models has decidedly leveled up. Today ChatGPT can write a passable sitcom scene in a style and theme of the prompter’s choice, and the techno-public is just beginning to explore what else chatbots and similar technology can generate. This quasi-singularity in AI development reframes questions for philosophy of humor, philosophy of technology, epistemology, and personhood. Drawing from Susan Sterrett’s work on the Turing Test, aspects of the explainable AI movement, and contemporary work in the philosophy of humor, I outline a general approach to theorizing algorithmic humor

"Healthy Humor" March 2024, American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division.

Abstract: Christopher Boorse is often credited with elevating philosophical questions regarding our conceptions of health and disease to found philosophy of medicine as a developing specialty in academic philosophy. John Morreal is similarly credited with founding philosophy of humor. This talk brings together considerations from both these traditions to establish a framework for understanding healthy humor and its potential contrast concepts, ranging from sick humor to considering what might qualify as a humor disability.

Some publications

Castro, Susan V. H. (2022) "Prosecuting the Case Against Clewis" Philosophy of Humor Yearbook 4:283-6. [This is a pompous, tongue-in-cheek, Kantian-insider roast.]

Castro, Susan V. H. (2022) “Paradigms of Smart Farming: Chemical, Ecological, Algorithmic” MDPI Proceedings, 2021 Summit of the International Society for the Study of Information (IS4SI), Philosophy and Computing Session.

Castro, Susan V. H. (2020) "Engendering Algorithmic Oppression" Blog of the APA, tags: Diversity and Inclusion, Women in Philosophy.

Castro, Susan V. H. (2019) "A Kantian Theory of the Sensory Processing Subtype of ASD [Autism]" Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics, 6(1):1-15.

Castro, SVH (2018) “Zeami’s Reply to Plato: On the Art of Sarugaku” Japan Studies Association Journal 15(1):1-22.

Some talks

Castro, Susan V. H. "Medical and Algorithmic Intimacy: Philosophical Considerations", Artful Medicine Symposium, October 2023.

Castro, Susan V. H. "Ethics of Big Data", WSU Academic Resources Conference, January 2023.

Castro, Susan V. H. Panelist for "Academic Integrity in the Age of AI", WSU Academic Resources Conference, January 2023.

Castro, Susan V. H. “Ethics of Professional Judgment in Dentistry”, Wichita District Dental Society (CME credit in ethics).

Castro, Susan V. H. “Sublime Humor”, APA Central, Philosophy of Humor Session, February 2022.

Castro, Susan V. H. “On the ‘logics’ of renga” Kansas Philosophical Society, February 2020.

Castro, Susan V. H. “The Category-Theoretic Space of Kant’s Imagination”, History of Philosophy of Science (HOPOS), Minneapolis, June 2016.

Castro, Susan V. H. “The Ambitious Idea of Kant’s Corollary”, International Kant Congress, Vienna, September 2015.

Castro, Susan V. H. “Acting as a Double Agent without Becoming Two Faced”, Association of Fundraising Professionals Annual Ethics Seminar, October 17, 2014.

Working Papers

Castro, Susan V. H. Establishing Moral Metaphysics as a Science (monograph)

Castro, Susan V. H. "Algorithmic Intimacy"

Castro, Susan V. H. "Rules and Free Play in Renga"

Castro, Susan V. H. "How to Treat Humanity: Autism and Moral Imagination"

Castro, Susan V. H. and Feleppa, Robert. “Kant’s reply to Zeami: Sarugaku, sensus communis, and perpetual peace”

Castro, Susan V. H. "“The Category-Theoretic Space of Kant’s Imagination”

Areas of Service

AY 2023-2024:

  • Faculty Senate past-President
  • Department of Philosophy
    • Chairperson
    • Occasional website assistant
  • Organizer/founder of The Academic Center for Biomedical and Health Humanities