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Philosophy is the study of the most fundamental issues concerning reality, knowledge, and value. Through the study of philosophy, students build skills of critical reflection, careful reading and writing, and creative thinking — skills that will be invaluable throughout their lives as workers and citizens in a democratic society.
The Department of Philosophy is a vital center for teaching and research in core areas of philosophy. The department prides itself on being inclusive and interdisciplinary, with many faculty holding joint or adjunct appointments in other units of the University. We aim to make contributions all across the campus.
Our department encourages students to explore a wide range of foundational issues concerning what to believe, what to value, and how to live meaningfully. We support our students to develop mental tools to appreciate and evaluate significant historical and contemporary discussions of such issues, often as stepping stone to developing their own views. More generally, we teach our students to think critically and communicate effectively while cultivating skills needed for life-long careers.
The department offers Bachelor of Arts and Doctoral degrees in Philosophy, a Bachelor of Arts degree through the History & Philosophy of Science Program, and a minor in Philosophy. Special areas of strength — areas in which there are several philosophy faculty members doing active research — include philosophy of science, applied ethics, history of philosophy, and feminist philosophy.
The breadth of the field of philosophy is reflected in the department’s course offerings. In addition to a full range of courses in the standard areas of philosophy and the history of philosophy, the department also offers courses relating to philosophical aspects of law, race, religion, formal and empirical sciences (mathematics, logic and the physical, and social sciences), public policy, the environment, bioethics, and global justice and human rights.
With its breadth and concern with fundamental intellectual issues, philosophy is an excellent second major for students in the other units of the College of Arts and Sciences. Of the department’s 168 majors in the fall of 2019, 84 of them are double or triple majors.
The department is home to the Program on Ethics, dedicated to research, teaching, and dialogue on ethical issues that arise across the disciplines. The program is committed to facilitating the multidisciplinary collaboration that is essential to finding practical and insightful responses to today’s myriad moral problems. The members of the core faculty are currently working on a variety of issues, ranging from climate change to disability rights to global justice. The program’s undergraduate minor and graduate certificate aim to provide students with the background and training that are necessary for thoughtful, rigorous, and sensitive engagement with ethical issues. The Program on Ethics presents an annual public lecture focused on one of today’s most pressing ethics issues.
- 168 Undergraduate majors
- 48 Undergraduate minors
- 28 Graduate students
- 59 Bachelor of Arts degrees
- 2 Master of Arts degrees
- 6 PhD degrees
*September 2019 - August 2020
Major Student Awards*
- 2 President's Medalists
- 1 Dean's Medal
- 1 Bonderman Travel Fellow
- 5 University of Washington Endowed Humanities Scholarships
- 1 University of Washington Endowed Social Science Scholarship
- 4 Husky 100
- 1 UW Excellence in Teaching Award
- 1 Graduate School Medal
- 3 Graduate School Presidential Dissertation Fellowships
- 1 UW Arts & Sciences Alvord Dissertation Fellowship
- 2 GO-MAP Dissertation Fellowships
- 1 John C. Flanagan Humanities Dissertation Fellowship
- 9 Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships
- 2 Joff Hanauer Graduate Student Fellowships
- 6 Professors
- 3 Associate Professors
- 1 Associate Teaching Professor
- 5 Assistant Professors
- 1 Assistant Teaching Professor
- 3 Lecturers
- 14 Emeritus Faculty
- 10 Affiliate and Adjunct faculty
- 4 Postdoctoral Scholars
Faculty awards, honors, and noteworthy accomplishments include:
- 2 Distinguished Teaching Awards
- 1 Outstanding Teaching Award, Key International Honor Society
- 1 Joff Hanauer Honors Professorship in Western Civilization
- 1 Ben Rabinowitz Professorship of Human Dimensions of the Environment
- 1 First Prize for Most Creative Idea, National Institute of Health Peer Review Challenge
- 2 National Science Foundation Grants
- 1 Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation
- 1 Editor-in-Chief of Philosophy of Science
- 1 Co-editor of Radical Philosophy Review
- 1 Commissioner on the King County Board of Ethics
Faculty Joint & Adjunct Appointments
- Bioethics and Humanities
- Center for Neural Technology
- Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences
- Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology
- College of the Environment
- Disability Studies Program
- eScience Institute
- Evans School of Public Affairs
- Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies
- Global Health
- Honors Program
- School of Medicine
Department of Philosophy faculty members teach and conduct research in most of the traditional areas of philosophy. In addition, many hold adjunct or joint appointments in other units on campus.
The wide variety of interests found among faculty members is reflected in their recently published or upcoming books, which include:
- Achieving Justice in Genomic Translation: Rethinking the Pathway to Benefit
- Comparative Metaethics: Neglected Perspectives on the Foundations of Morality
- Compassionate Moral Realism
- Debating Climate Ethics
- Which Rights Should Be Universal?
- Geoengineering, Political Legitimacy and Justice
- Human Rights and Human Well-Being
- Justice & Foreign Policy
- Justice, Migration, and Mercy
- The Moral and Political Philosophy of Immigration: Liberty, Security, and Equality
- The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics
- A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Challenge of Climate Change
- Philosophy in Schools: An Introduction for Philosophers and Teachers
- Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Politics
- Social Equality: On What It Means to be Equals
- What is Enough? Sufficiency, Justice and Health
- Kenneth C. Clatterbaugh Endowed Scholarship in Philosophy
- Michael Podlin Endowed Fund in Philosophy
- Benjamin Rabinowitz Philosophy Chair in Medical Ethics
- Melvin Rader Endowed Fellowship
- Pamela Marie Saari Endowed Fund in Philosophy
- Nicholas Hase Endowed Fund in Philosophy
- James W. Wichterman Endowed Fund in Philosophy
The UW Center for Philosophy for Children offers a class each quarter introducing UW students to methods of doing philosophy with K-12 students. UW students facilitate philosophy classes that explore a range of philosophical questions in Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Childhaven, and online classrooms.
Department faculty frequently provide commentary on public radio and local, national, and international news sources, including The Conversation, on topics varying from current events to social norms. Faculty have advised government officials on the local, national, and international level on ethical concerns.
Each year the department sponsors conferences, workshops, and a colloquium series. Topics include ethics and climate change, medical ethics, global justice, philosophy of physics, immigration, and human rights.
The Department of Philosophy Advisory Board provides an opportunity for interested people outside of academia to contribute to the department by assisting with community and public relations, and supporting the department’s fund development efforts.
In addition to sending out quarterly newsletters, the Department maintains an active presence on Facebook, and LinkedIn. Connect with us today!
Department of Philosophy
361 Savery Hall
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
phone: (206) 543-5855
Fact sheet last updated: December 2020