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Quayshawn Spencer

Robert S. Blank Presidential Associate Professor of Philosophy and Undergraduate Chair


Ph.D., Stanford (philosophy)
M.S., Stanford (biology)
B.A., Cornell (chemistry & philosophy)

I specialize in philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and philosophy of race.  In philosophy of science, I primarily focus on metaphysical problems in science, such as what is an appropriate way to define "natural kinds."  In philosophy of biology, I primarily focus on metaphysical problems in biology, such as whether biological populations can have fuzzy temporal parts and whether there is any way to group organisms into biologically real subspecies.  In philosophy of race, you guessed it, I primarily focus on metaphysical problems in race theory, such as whether any folk racial classification divides people into real biological groups.

Research Interests

Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Race

Selected Publications


  1. Glasgow, J., Haslanger, S., Jeffers, C., & Spencer, Q. (2019). What is Race? Four Philosophical Views. New York: Oxford University Press.


  1. Spencer, Q. (2019). A More Radical Solution to the Race Problem. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 93(1): 25-48.
  2. Spencer, Q. (2018). A Racial Classification for Medical Genetics. Philosophical Studies 175(5): 1013-1037.
  3. Spencer, Q. (2018). Racial Realism II: Are Folk Races Real? Philosophy Compass 13(1): e12467.
  4. Spencer, Q. (2018). Racial Realism I: Are Biological Races Real? Philosophy Compass 13(1): e12468.
  5. Spencer, Q. (2016). Do Humans Have Continental Populations? Philosophy of Science 83(5): 791-802.
  6. Spencer, Q. (2015). Philosophy of Race Meets Population Genetics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52: 46-55.
  7. Spencer, Q. (2014). A Radical Solution to the Race Problem. Philosophy of Science 81(5): 1025-1038.
  8. Spencer, Q. (2014). The Unnatural Racial Naturalism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 46: 38-43.
  9. Spencer, Q. (2013). Biological Theory and the Metaphysics of Race: A Reply to Kaplan and Winther. Biological Theory 8(1): 114-120.
  10. Spencer, Q. (2012). What 'Biological Racial Realism' Should Mean. Philosophical Studies 159(2): 181-204.


Cohen Hall, room 464

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