I am Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Mount Holyoke College. I am also the Book Review Editor for The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. I received my B.A. in Philosophy and Politics from Oberlin College in 1993, and my Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2001. I grew up in Connecticut and was delighted to return to New England when I accepted a position at Mount Holyoke in 2002. Previously, I have held visiting positions at St. Olaf College and Washington University in St. Louis. Before graduate school, I worked as an assistant teacher at an elementary school, as a carpenter and set painter at a number of regional theaters, and as the assistant director of a local office of Greenpeace in Madison, Wisconsin.
My wife, Jennifer (Kippy) York, is a veterinarian at Monadnock Humane Society, and we live in Amherst with our two children.
There is another philosophy professor with a similar name: James A. Harold. I am not him.
My research lies at the intersection of meta-ethics and aesthetics. I am interested in the structure of moral and aesthetic justification, and the relationship between these two fields of value. My recent work focuses on the moral import of imaginative engagement with fictional artworks. I am particularly interested in cognitive and affective aspects of this engagement, and in the differences between the moral and aesthetic judgments we make about the value of such engagement. Thus, my work in this area brings me into contact with cognitive science, philosophy of emotion, and other related fields.
In summer 2008, I participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar on Confucian virtue ethics, and I have been enjoying learning about the Chinese philosophical tradition. I am also interested in the role of principles in critical evaluation, philosophical psychopathology, empirical ethics and aesthetics, and meta-ethical expressivism.
Many of my papers, my cv, and some other documents are available at my academia.edu page here.
You can e-mail me at jharold [at] mtholyoke [dot] edu.