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Department appoints New Assistant Professors Lisa Miracchi and Errol Lord

The Philosophy Department at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce the appointment of Lisa Miracchi, Errol Lord, Quayshawn Spencer as Assistant Professors of Philosophy.  

Miracchi [pronounced MeerACKy] works at the intersection of epistemology and the philosophy of mind. She is developing an "achievement-first" account of knowledge, perception, cognition, and action, one that reverses the more usual approach of attempting to provide a neutral characterization of cognition as a basis for explaining successes and failures. She is finishing her Ph.D. at Rutgers University and will take up her position at Penn in July 2015, after spending the 2014-15 academic year at NYU as a Bersoff Postdoctoral Fellow.

Lord, who received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 2013, works in ethical theory (especially practical reason and metaethics) and has additional projects in philosophy of action and in epistemology.  His interests include applied ethics, metaphysics, and the history of modern philosophy. He is currently completing a Post-doctoral fellowship at Franklin and Marshall College, where he has been teaching courses on the intersection of philosophy and psychology.  Lord will be joining the department in July 2014.

Spencer earned undergraduate degrees in philosophy and chemistry from Cornell, a masters in philosophy from Tufts, a masters in biology from Stanford, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University. He is currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco and has held the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Assistant Professorship at MIT in 2009-2010.  He will join the faculty at Penn in 2014-15.

Spencer focuses his research on philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and philosophy of race. His best known work concerns the metaphysics of race, attempting to understand what the term ‘race’ means and whether or not it has a biological basis. While most philosophers, anthopologists, and biologists have concluded that race has no biological basis and hence nothing like the ordinary conception of race exists in the world, Spencer thinks this move is too quick. Modern genetic analyses of human populations, including those performed by our colleague Sarah Tishkoff (Genetics and Biology), present a much more nuanced story about human populations. These analyses show that there have historically been high degrees of isolation of human populations in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Since these (relatively) isolated populations correspond fairly well to the five racial groups listed on current US Census forms, what we say about the biological basis of race must be made more nuanced. This project is the basis of Spencer’s book manuscript in progress, titled Three Views on Race.

In addition to his work on race, Spencer has contributed to the philosophy of biology literature about the nature of populations and the nature of natural and scientific kinds. His work in these areas is informed by his graduate training in molecular systematics. He has also written about Newton, the status of African Americans in philosophy departments, and Eurema butterflies.

Please join us in welcoming Lisa, Errol, and Quayshawn to the community of philosophers at Penn!