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History of Philosophy

Penn is routinely ranked among the top philosophy programs in the history of philosophy with notable strengths in ancient philosophy through to early modern philosophy and on to Kant and German idealism. With the presence of Charles Kahn (ancient philosophy), Susan Sauvé Meyer (ancient philosophy), Karen Detlefsen (early modern), Gary Hatfield (early modern through post-Kant), and Rolf Horstmann as regular visitor (Kant, German idealism, and Nineteenth-Century philosophy) the department has been a nationally prominent department in the history of philosophy for the past thirty years.

Our faculty members have diverse research interests covering the history of value theory, metaphysics and epistemology, and natural philosophy (or science). Many of our research interests connect with those of our colleagues working in contemporary philosophy, and some of us work in contemporary philosophy ourselves. Penn is therefore well-situated to connect contempory philosophy problems with their history. We have notable strengths in the history of core topics in metaphysics and epistemology (Detlefsen, Hatfield, Horstmann, Kahn, Meyer); the history of psychology (Kahn and Hatfield), vision and cognitive science (Hatfield); the history of natural philosophy (or science) in general (Detlefsen, Hatfield, Kahn, Meyer) and biology in particular (Detlefsen and Hatfield); the history of moral and political thought (Kahn, Meyer); the history of educational theory through to the present (Detlefsen); and the history of women working in philosophy and science (Detlefsen).

Our research interests are complemented by related research of faculty in associated departments, including Claire Finklestein (Law: history of legal thought); William Ewald (Law: history of philosophy of mathematics); Warren Breckman, Alan Kors, Ann Moyer, Julia Rodolph, and Margo Todd (History: intellectual history, including history of science and of women); Rita Copeland, Ralph Rosen, and Peter Struck (Classical Studies); and Mark Adams, David Barnes, Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Henrika Kuklick, Susan Lindee, and John Tresch (History and Sociology and Science).