Michigan State University
Michigan State University
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Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy


We offer traditional areas of philosophy along with research and teaching in the more directly practical areas of bioethics, environmental philosophy and ethics, and social and political thought.

Faculty are producing important scholarship in traditional philosophical sub-disciplines. At the same time, we have established areas of concentration focusing on more immediate and practical concerns. In conjunction with scholars in MSU's medical schools and environmental and agricultural science programs, the department has achieved national distinction in ethical and theoretical debates about issues pertaining to health care, food and the environment. These efforts overlap with research and teaching on race and gender issues, democratic theory, ethics and development, and critical social theory. With our commitment to this combination of problems, we are a distinctive program with a purposeful and diverse graduate student body.

The graduate program supports interdisciplinary work in such programs as Environmental Science and Policy; Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change; African American and African Studies; Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior; Cognitive Science; and Women, Gender, and Social Justice. The global dimension of the department is illustrated by its Ethics and Development graduate specialization. The faculty has been ranked among the most productive in the nation and our graduate students hail from around the world.







Professor John Grey wins the Sanders Prize in the History of Early Modern Philosophy for 2018

Congratulations to Professor John Grey for winning the prize with his paper, "The Metaphysics of Natural Right in Spinoza"! An abstract and PDF of his article can be found on the Marc Sanders Foundation website, along with the announcement of his award.

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The U.S. National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative awards four year grant to Dr. Cabrera and Colleagues

Congratulations to Laura Y. Cabrera, Aaron M. McCright, Robyn Bluhm and Eric Achtyes


MSU's Toolbox Dialogue Initiative Wins the 2018 Prize for Excellence and Innovation

The American Philosophical Association and Philosophy Documentation Center have awarded MSU's Toolbox Dialogue Initiative with the 2018 Prize for Excellence and Innovation. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Heather Douglas joins the Department of Philosophy Faculty

Professor Heather Douglas has joined the College of Arts and Letters as an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy.


Congratulations to Chayse Hurley for Winning the Benjamin-Miller Prize

The Martin Benjamin and Bruce L. Miller Award is awarded to the most promising student at an early stage in philosophy. 

Congratulations to Logan Cross for Winning the Zerby Prize

The Lewis K. Zerby Prize is awarded for the best philosophy essay written by an undergraduate student at MSU. Logan Cross wins the Zerby Price with "A Matter of Freedom: A Defense of Sartre's Anthropological Marxism."

Tarana Burke, founder of #MeToo movement was @MSU as part of the Transformative Justice Series organized by Professor Xhercis Méndez


Professor Heather Douglas joins our department in the Fall of 2018


A Revised and Updated The Spirit of the Soil by Professor Paul B. Thompson

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Engaged Philosophy Internship Program (EPIP)

Our new internship program "connects philosophers with projects and interests outside of academia and includes work with community organizations and other non-academic partners."
Meet the first interns: Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner and Ayanna Spencer

Professor Michael O'Rourke named the Interim Director of the Center for Interdisciplinarity at MSU

"Professor of Philosophy Michael O’Rourke has been appointed Interim Director of the MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity, effective August 16, 2017. The two-year appointment runs through August 15, 2019."

2017 Undergraduate Awards

Congratulations to Prratek Ramchandani for receiving the The Zerby Award (Best Undergraduate Paper) for his paper titled "Particular Forms in Aristotle's Metaphysics: Resolving the Dileamma."

Congratulations to Nicole Schilling for receiving The Benjamin Award (Outstanding Undergraduate Student).

Professor Catherine Kendig on 5-Minute Fellows

As a research fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Catherine Kendig discusses her research on homology and synthetic biology.
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Professor Xhercis Méndez organizes the First Annual Transformative Justice Series

After hosting its first speaker, Dr. Mimi Kim, on February 9th & 10th, the Transformative Justice Series will continue on March 29th & 30th with Mia Mingus, community organizer and educator. See the calendar for event details.

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Congratulations to Paul Thompson for winning the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award

"Paul Thompson is one of the pre-eminent philosophers of agriculture and food ethics in the world."

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"Five Reasons Why the North Dakota Pipeline Fight will Continue in 2017"

Read Kyle Whyte's article in The Conversation.

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Kristie Dotson discusses Epistemic Oppression

Elucidations, a University of Chicago Philosophy Podcast, interviews Dr. Dotson on epistemic oppression.


Diversity in Philosophy: A Joint Symposium between Michigan State University and Massey University

Dr. Kristie Dotson organizes a joint symposium with Massey University's Dr. Krushil Watene. The symposium is titled "New Routes to Diversity in Philosophy: Contributions from the Pacific and Australasia" and it will take place in Auckland, New Zealand on August 18-19, 2017.


Congratulations to Dr. Stephanie Vasko for being named to the first cohort of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Community Engagement Fellows

"The AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program, supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is designed to improve online collaboration and community-building in science." (www.aaas.org/cefp/about)


"At Standing Rock, A Battle Over Fossil Fuels and Land"

Yale Environment 360 interviews Kyle Powys Whyte

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"Cage-free sounds good, but does it mean a better life for chickens?"

Paul Thompson's recent article in The Conversation.

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Christian Lotz was elected to the Executive Committee of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP).

SPEP is the main North-American society for Continental Philosophy and the second largest philosophical society in the US. (http://www.spep.org/)


"Why the Native American pipeline resistance in North Dakota is about climate justice"

Read Kyle Whyte's article in The Conversation

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Congratulations to Alex Neitzke for Winning the 2nd prize in 2016 American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) Student Paper Award

"The ASBH Student Paper Award recognizes up to three papers for writing clarity and quality, development of the argument, integration of the literature, and novelty/insight of the contribution, and quality of the oral presentation." (http://asbh.org/about/awards)

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Michael O'Rourke on Cultivating Collaborations in Scientific Endeavors


Congratulations to Paul Howatt for Winning the Benjamin-Miller Prize

The Martin Benjamin and Bruce L. Miller Award is awarded to the most promising student at an early stage in philosophy. 

Congratulations to Joshua Schroeder for Winning the Zerby Prize

The Lewis K. Zerby Prize is awarded for the best philosophy essay written by an undergraduate student at MSU. The winner receives $250. 

Bethany Laursen on Combining Interdisciplinary Studies and Community Sustainability

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Congratulations to Youjin Kong for Winning the Joseph J. Blau Prize from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP)

The Joseph L. Blau Prize is awarded annually to the author of the paper that makes the most significant contribution to the history of American Philosophy from colonial times to the recent present. The prize is given for Kong's paper "Feminism and Historicist Universalism: A Critical Analysis of Richard Rorty's Anti-Universalism."


Dr. Gretel Van Wieren Explores Using Religion and Ethics to Restore ‘This Old Earth’


Kyle Powys Whyte Named the Inaugural Timnick Chair in the Humanities at Michigan State University.  



Congratulations to Sean Valles for Receiving the 2016 Teacher-Scholar Award!


The 2016 Teacher-Scholar Award is given to to faculty who early in their careers have earned the respect of students and colleagues for their devotion to and skill in teaching, and whose instruction is linked to and informed by their research and creative activities. Supported by the Office of University Development.  


Sophia Pavlos Named a 2016 HWW Pre-Doctoral Workshop Fellow


MSU College of Arts and Letters (CAL) graduate students Jennifer Gohlke, German Studies, and Sophia Pavlos, Philosophy, have been named Humanities Without Walls (HWW) 2016 Pre-Doctoral Workshop Fellows, and will join a cohort of 30 graduate students from varied disciplines. The HWW consortium links the humanities centers at 15 research universities, including Michigan State University, throughout the Midwest and beyond.

Improving Collaboration Between Native Americans and Climate Scientists 


Hoping to improve Native American tribes’ access to climate science tools, a Michigan State University researcher will use a four-year $450,000 National Science Foundation grant to foster better relations between tribes and scientific organizations when dealing with climate change. Read more here