Chetan Cetty

I'm a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. I grew up in Singapore and completed my undergraduate studies at the National University of Singapore before doing my M.A in philosophy at Georgia State University. I was a visiting student at the Australian National University in 2015.

I work primarily in political and moral philosophy. My current research concerns how moral and political theories should be constructed, including questions about the proper role of idealization within such theories, what feasibility consists in, how feasibility constraints apply to such theories, and how concerns about alienation and action-guidingness should bear on them.​ The recent philosophical interest in such questions is motivated by increased awareness of how disagreement over method can undergird disputes between moral and political theorists. My research in such matters aims to clarify methodological differences so that we can make progress on how to theorize about morality and politics.

While my primary research focuses on more foundational questions, it connects up with the strong interest I harbour in the ethics of various pressing policy questions in our society today such as the ethics of gun control, the impact of automation on work, the design of accident algorithms in self-driving cars, and the problem that social media poses for a just democratic order. How I answer such questions is driven in part by what I argue to be the right way to theorize about politics, that is, an "Ideals-first" approach. This approach holds that the way we evaluate and recommend reforms to unjust institutions must be guided by our normative ideals (e.g. our vision of an ideally just society) and aim at their realization.

I was a Critical Speaking Fellow at the Penn Communication with the Curriculum (CWiC) program for the 2019-2020 academic year. As part of this fellowship, I designed and taught a course on ethics and public policy that, unlike most philosophy courses, placed significant weight on oral communication exercises in student assessment.

If you wish to contact me, I can be reached at chetancetty[at]