History of the Department

By Robert Dostal (with the assistance of Kiran Bhardwaj '10)


The Philosophy Department of Bryn Mawr College has a long and distinguished history. Over the more than 120 years of its work, the department has contributed importantly to the intellectual education of countless students, graduate and undergraduate, majors and non-majors. The department has sent many B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. students onto a wide variety of professional careers including not a few in philosophy. Many prominent philosophers have called Bryn Mawr home. The department has hosted world-renowned thinkers such as Bertrand Russell, Isaiah Berlin, and Alfred North Whitehead. The first woman to serve as President of the Eastern American Philosophical Association was a faculty member at Bryn Mawr—Grace de Laguna, who was active in the department and College for over half a century. The first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in philosophy from an U.S. institution (Yale) received her A.B. from Bryn Mawr (1955)—Joyce Mitchell Cook. The department today actively continues this tradition of teaching and active engagement in the world-wide conversation in philosophy.

The First Years

The department was established when the College was founded in 1885. Though in its first years no major was offered in philosophy, the College considered philosophy to be at the core of the curriculum. The College required a year long, 5 hours weekly, course in philosophy of all students. The requirement of a year-long philosophy course, in one form or another, was maintained until the 1960’s, when the College adopted a version of the current set of curricular requirements which include the “distribution” requirements under which philosophy can serve to satisfy the humanities requirement.

In his inaugural address in the fall of 1885 the first president of the College, James E. Rhoads, spoke to the importance of philosophy in the curriculum and in the academic life of the College:

"The too exclusive direction of modern research to the natural sciences, to that which can be seen, handled, measured and weighed, and the great increase of comfort and luxury arising from the practical applications of discoveries in them, has had a tendency to divert attention from metaphysics, and to produce results which would be amusing if they were not pitiful. It has seemed important, therefore, that Philosophy should have due recognition among the studies of the College. Based no less than the physical sciences upon observed facts, and appealing to consciousness no less confidently than they, Philosophy is necessary to that balanced culture which takes cognizance of all parts of our nature and fits us for the highest living. If it starts with the elementary facts of sensation and perception common to all animals, Philosophy rises to the consideration in man of an order of phenomena which transcend those in inferior beings, for to his actions there is added a moral character. This moral element includes reverence and implies religion, and it is only in religion, and especially in its highest form, Christianity, that the motives and the power of true morality are to be found.

"To fill up the study of man as a part of nature, to meet the requirements of the trust imposed upon us by the Founder of the College, to care for the most sacred interests of life, and to engage the faculties in their noblest use, instruction will be given in Philosophy and in the truths of the Bible…
Goethe has said, “Man is not born to solve the mystery of existence; but he must nevertheless attempt it, in order that he may learn how to keep within the limits of the knowable.” If in this attempt, crude guesses are sometimes offered in the name of science, we shall wait until the vapors of imagination have distilled and gather only the residuum of truth."

Rhoads is clearly pointing to philosophy as a counterweight to the natural sciences and the scientism and positivism that the success of science had elicited. Philosophy can provide this counterweight inasmuch as it can serve as a moral compass. For Rhoads, a devout Quaker, the culmination of philosophy was Christian ethics. Throughout his presidency Rhoads gave lectures in Christian ethics as part of the philosophy curriculum and of the required course. With the retirement of Rhoads in 1896 religion no longer found a place in the philosophy curriculum; it would find a place again in the 1940’s. This development in the 1890’s may be related to the fact that the College, according to the will of its founder, Joseph Taylor, was to educate Quaker women. In 1893 the Board of Trustees decided that the College’s mission was not solely for Quakers.

The philosophy department in its first years not only taught religion (Christian ethics) but also psychology. Psychology at Bryn Mawr and elsewhere had not yet established itself as an independent discipline. Courses in “physiological psychology” and “experimental psychology” were offered by the philosophy department until psychology became a department of its own.

In 1894 it became possible to major in philosophy. Years previously, in 1890, graduate work in philosophy was first offered under the auspices of Paul Shorey. Shorey, educated at Harvard, taught at Bryn Mawr from 1885 to 1892 when he left for the University of Chicago where he established himself as a leading Plato scholar. The staffing of the philosophy department in the first years was relatively unstable with a number of philosophers coming and going. A student from these years, who came to be well-known, was Edith Hamilton, who received her A.B. and M.A. in 1894 and then went off to study in Germany. She returned to the U.S. to lead the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore and to write her popular books on the Greeks and the Romans.

A notable philosophical event from this period was a visit from Bertrand Russell in 1896 during which he gave a set of lectures on the foundations of geometry. This work eventuated in the important and jointly authored (with Alfred North Whitehead) Principia Mathematica (1910-1913). His conversations here with mathematicians James Harkness (Bryn Mawr) and Frank Morley (Haverford) were very important for the development of his ideas about mathematics. His last lecture was on quite a different topic—socialism and individual liberty. In a letter to an uncle about his visit, Russell wrote:

"This College is a very nice place…especially in the greater freedom it allows to the girls. Also those girls that I have met seem to have more independence of mind, more spirit and more originality, than most of the girls at Cambridge." (cited in The Life of Bertrand Russell, by Ronald Clark)

Russell’s wife Alys, nee Pearsall Smith (Class of 1890), a Quaker from a Philadelphia family, also lectured. She spoke on behalf of suffrage for women and she talked with the students about free love. M. Carey Thomas, a relative of Alys and acquaintance of Russell’s, was upset by the latter and refused to allow Russell to lecture publicly when he returned for a visit with his close friend, Lucy Donnelly, Professor of English, in 1914.

The de Laguna Years (1907-1946)

Philosophy department staffing began a very long period of stability with the arrival of Theodore and Grace de Laguna in 1907. From 1907 until 1942 the de Laguna’s led the Bryn Mawr philosophy department. Theodore had received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1901 and was appointed a full professor at Bryn Mawr in 1907. His wife, Grace, had received her Ph.D. from Cornell in 1906 and is listed in the College catalog of 1907 as a “reader-elect.” In the ensuing years she is listed as a fellow, but in 1911 she is listed as an Associate Professor. Theodore chaired the department until his death in 1930. Grace took over as chair and remained the department leader until her retirement in 1942. She stayed active in the department and professionally into the 1960’s. She died in 1967. Theodore and Grace shared philosophical interests and alternately taught courses in ethics, metaphysics, and the history of philosophy. They were much influenced by recent Anglo-American developments in philosophy, especially by the work of Whitehead, Peirce, and Dewey.

The de Laguna’s were responsible for founding the Fullerton Club in 1925, an association of philosophers in the Philadelphia area that had a long and rich history, and for which Bryn Mawr faculty often gave leadership over the years. The club ended in the 1980’s with the emergence of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium, which importantly contributes to the philosophical life of the area to this day. The de Laguna’s were motivated to establish the Fullerton Club because a similar association of philosophers at Columbia University which they wished to join would not allow women to participate.

In 1929-30 they invited Alfred North Whitehead to come to Bryn Mawr for an extended period and to deliver the second set of Flexner lectures in philosophy. His lectures became the basis for his Adventures of Ideas. In 1932 the College hosted the annual meeting of the Eastern American Philosophical Association. Grace served as vice-president of this organization in 1933 and as the first woman president in 1941.

At the beginning of the 1930’s she provided for the future of the department by hiring two philosophers who became nationally prominent: Paul Weiss and Milton Nahm. She hired Milton Nahm first (1930), a Rhodes Scholar from New Mexico with a Ph.D. from Columbia. According to Paul Weiss’ autobiographical comments in Philosophy in Process, there was some hesitation to hire Weiss the next year since he would be a second Jew in the department (Nahm was Jewish), but de Laguna hired him in spite of her reservations. Paul Weiss had done his graduate work at Harvard where he had begun his work on Charles Peirce’s papers. He completed this work at Bryn Mawr. These three, de Laguna, Nahm, and Weiss, were the mainstays of the department from 1931 to 1946 when Paul Weiss left Bryn Mawr for Yale where he taught and led the Yale department for more than 20 years before completing his career at Catholic University. Milton Nahm spent his entire career at Bryn Mawr.

In the late 1930’s and 1940’s Bryn Mawr took on as faculty a number of refugees from fascist Europe. Among these was the philosopher Erich Frank (1883-1949) who had immigrated to the US from Germany in the mid-1930’s. He had found research support at Harvard but no academic position. In the spring of 1940 he spent part of a semester as a visiting professor at Bryn Mawr. His lectures were so popular that they had to be held in Goodhart Hall. Subsequently, he was invited to give the Flexner lectures in 1942-43. His topic was in the philosophy of religion, “Philosophical Understanding and Religious Truth.” These lectures were published by Oxford in 1945 under the same title. Frank was asked to stay on as a permanent member of the department. He accepted and spent the years 1943-48 as a faculty member. He urged the department to give attention to the philosophy of religion. In part, upon his urging and through the leadership of President McBride, funding was found to establish the Rufus M. Jones endowed chair in philosophy and religion in honor the important Quaker philosopher and religious thinker who spent most of his life at Haverford College.

Jones (1863-1948) was one of the leading personalities in the history of both Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges. Upon his death the London Times wrote that “Rufus Jones was the greatest spiritual teacher our land has known since William James went away.” He served as a philosophy faculty member at Haverford College from 1893 until his retirement in 1934. He gave leadership to Bryn Mawr College through his membership on the Bryn Mawr College Board of Trustees for 51 years, during which time he was chair of the Board for 20 years. He was an important Quaker leader and theologian. He was the author of 40 books and numerous essays. In 1917 in response to World War I he helped found the American Friends Service Committee which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for doing relief work in Europe after WWII much like it did after WWI and other wars.

Notable visiting lecturers during the late 1930’s and early 1940 included Mortimer Adler and Jacques Maritain. In 1943 Bertrand Russell made his third visit (and second official) visit to Bryn Mawr. He had been living in Malvern and lecturing at the Barnes on the history of philosophy. The Barnes lectures formed the basis of Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy. Much of the research for these lectures was done in the Bryn Mawr library where he spent much time. In his autobiography he expresses his gratitude for Bryn Mawr’s excellent library. He was also motivated to spend time at Bryn Mawr because of his long-lasting friendship with Lucy Donnelly, Professor of English at the College for many years. During this visit he saw much of Donnelly’s friend, Edith Finch (Class of ‘22) who would become his fourth wife. A private donor provided funds which enabled the department to invite Russell to give a series of five lectures. He lectured on “The Postulates of the Scientific Method.” Paul Weiss, writing in the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (December 1943), reports that “the lectures were a tremendous success. Despite torrential rains, students, faculty and others came from Swarthmore, Haverford, and Philadelphia in considerable and increasing numbers.”

Paul Weiss had succeeded Grace de Laguna as chair of the department in the fall of 1943. He tells us (in Philosophy in Process) that he was a “poor head of the department” and that he did not get along well with his colleague Milton Nahm. When Weiss left for Yale in 1946, Nahm became chair. It was under Weiss in 1944 that Isabel Stearns (1910-1987), a Smith undergraduate and Bryn Mawr Ph.D., joined the department for what became a very long tenure—for 35 years until her retirement in 1979. It is said that Whitehead once said that Stearns was his very best student ever (though she never studied directly with him at Harvard).

The Nahm Years (1946-1972)

Milton Nahm chaired the department for 26 years until his retirement in 1972. During this long period, the department grew in size—in faculty and student numbers. At its height in the early 1960’s the department had 8 full time equivalent faculty members, 6 of whom were tenured or tenure track. In the Class of 1963 philosophy was the largest major in the College, with 21 graduates of a class of 169 (1 in 8 students was a philosophy major). Of these, 4 went on to careers in philosophy. Others had careers in business, including a successful banker who founded her own bank. At this same time, there were a good number of graduate students too. Prominent visitors in the Nahm years include Isaiah Berlin, who as a Flexner lecturer in 1951-52, spoke on the “Rise of Modern Political Ideas in the Romantic Period.” Other visitors of note were W. V. O. Quine, Brand Blandshard, Monroe Beardsley, Lewis Beck, Herbert Marcuse, and Leo Strauss who visited in 1949 and 1950.

Clearly, one of the most important things that Nahm did on behalf of the department and the College was to see to the next generation of faculty. In the immediate post-war years, four very notable appointments were made: Paul Schrecker, Geddes MacGregor, Jose Ferrater Mora, and Hugues LeBlanc. Paul Schrecker (1889-1963), like Erich Frank, was a refugee who was originally from Austria and had made a career in Germany. Via London and Paris, Schrecker came to New York in the 1941 where he taught at the New School. In 1947 he was appointed jointly to the philosophy departments of Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore—the first Tri-College faculty appointment ever made. He held this Tri-College appointment for two years, taught full-time at Bryn Mawr in 1949-50 and then in 1950 accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania. Subsequently he continued to teach and maintain a presence at Bryn Mawr part-time until 1961. He was a leading scholar of modern philosophy, especially the thought of Leibniz and Malebranche.

1948 saw the arrival of Hugues LeBlanc (1924-1999), a French Canadian with a Ph.D. from Harvard. He was the department logician until his departure for Temple University in 1967. He had studied with Quine at Harvard and authored four books and many articles on deductive and inductive logic. During his time at Bryn Mawr he held Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships and served as a visiting professor at Columbia, Penn, Haverford, and Swarthmore. He taught courses in logic, epistemology, and British empiricism.

In 1949 Geddes MacGregor (1909-1998) was appointed the first holder of the Rufus M. Jones chair in Philosophy and Religion. Educated at Edinburgh, Oxford, and the Sorbonne, he came to Bryn Mawr from the University of Edinburgh where he was teaching in the philosophy department. He was an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland. Late in life, he became an Anglican priest. He taught at Bryn Mawr for 11 years after which he accepted the position of Dean of the Graduate School of Religion at the University of Southern California. Over his long career he authored 25 books and many articles and reviews. At Bryn Mawr he offered courses in medieval philosophy and the philosophy of religion.

Jose Ferrater-Mora (1912-1991) also came to the College in 1949. He, too, was a refugee from fascist Europe. A Catalan (born in Barcelona), he fled Franco’s Spain for Paris, then Cuba and Chile. His initial appointment at Bryn Mawr was to the Spanish department, and soon joined the philosophy department. Ferrater-Mora has been celebrated as the most original and profound Spanish philosopher in the last half of the 20th century. He was a world-renowned philosopher, an essayist, an encyclopedist, a prize winning author of fiction, a movie maker, a journalist and more. He is known best for his four-volume Spanish Encyclopedia of philosophy, Diccionario de filosofía. He published over 35 books and hundreds of articles and essays. He received many awards and honorary doctorates including the highest awards that Spain bestows. He taught a wide variety of courses over his long tenure at Bryn Mawr (1949-1981) including courses in the entire history of philosophy, metaphysics and ontology, phenomenology, philosophy of history.

In 1959 Nahm brought George Kline to Bryn Mawr. Kline, an expert in the history of Russian philosophy, was also an authority in the philosophy of Hegel and Whitehead. During his long tenure at Bryn Mawr (1959-1991) he taught the history of philosophy, ethics, the philosophy of time and seminars on Hegel and Whitehead. He also occasionally taught Russian poetry (in Russian) and once chaired the department of Russian. He is the author, editor, and translator of many books. A much sought after speaker, he was invited to speak at many universities and colleges in this country and abroad. He has served as president of the Metaphysical Society of America and the Hegel Society of America. He is the primary English translator of the poetry of Joseph Brodsky. On the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Brodsky, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that George Kline has “done more than any other American to introduce Brodsky’s poetry to English-speaking readers.” In the course of his career he held many research fellowships including the NEH, Cutting, Fulbright, Ford, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim. In the late 1980’s he was named the first Nahm Professor, a chair funded by an appreciative former student of Nahm’s.

Jean Potter (1923-1995), with a Bryn Mawr A.B. (1945) and Yale Ph.D. (1954) came to the department in 1962. She was a medievalist and philosopher of religion with a special interest in John the Scot. For a decade (1965-1975) she chaired the College’s medieval studies program. George Weaver, a logician with a Ph.D. in mathematical linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, came in 1969 to replace Hughes LeBlanc, with whom he co-authored several of his many publications. Weaver chaired the department for six years in the 1980’s. He contributed importantly to the development of the computer science program.

Nahm’s last appointment as chair was Michael Krausz in 1970. Krausz, an internationally known philosopher as well as a painter and orchestral conductor, was educated at Rutgers, the London School of Economics, Indiana University, Oxford University, and the University of Toronto where he received his doctorate (1969) in the philosophy of history. He teaches and publishes in a wide variety of fields including aesthetics, philosophy of science, philosophy of history, epistemology, among others. Central themes of his work have been the questions of interpretation and relativism. He has often co-taught courses at the College with colleagues in the sciences and anthropology. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford, American University of Cairo, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Georgetown University, and the Universities of Nairobi and Delhi. Krausz is the author of five books, editor of eleven volumes, and numerous articles. He served as chair of the philosophy department from 1993 until 2004. In the 1980’s he co-founded of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium and has served as a director of the consortium since its inception.

Another important appointment for the philosophy department was the appointment of Steve Salkever, a political theorist, in the department of political science. Over the years Salkever has worked closely with the philosophy department. All of his courses are cross-listed with philosophy. He teaches the entire history of political theory, from Plato to present. He offers upper level work in Plato and Aristotle as well as contemporary theory. He is an award winning teacher and the author of many publications including Finding the Mean: Theory and Practice in Aristotelian Political Philosophy (1990).

Other instructors in the late 1960’s and in the 1970’s included Mary Patterson McPherson (Ph.D. BMC 1969), who served as Dean of the College and later became the 6th President of the College (1978-1997), Margaret Healy (Ph.D. BMC 1969), who later became the Treasurer of the College (1978-1995) and, subsequently, President of Rosemont College, and Elizabeth Vermey (A.B. BMC 1958), who had a long tenure as the College’s Director of Admissions (1965-1995).

1965 marked the end of an era for the department and the College. Prior to that year, the year-long course in Ancient and Modern Philosophy was required of every Bryn Mawr undergraduate. Many an alumna (for example, Catharine Stimpson, Class of ’60, English major, and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University) has said that this course sequence gave her an intellectual anchor which grounded her for the course of their life. This course and the freshman English course were the two only all-college requirements. This requirement was rescinded in 1965. It was replaced by a set of distribution requirements. In the aftermath of this change of requirements, the level of staffing in the department was gradually reduced. The department continues to offer the historical sequence as the introduction to the major: ancient and modern philosophy.

The 1970s

After such a long period of operating under the direction of Milton Nahm, the department of the 1970’s saw three different chairmen: Nahm until 1972, Ferrater-Mora (1972-1977), and George Kline (1977-1982). Nahm retired in 1972. Isabel Stearns retired in 1979. Though there were two retirements in the 1970’s, there was only one appointment—Tracy Taft, in ancient philosophy in 1974. She resigned in 1980 and was replaced with the hire of Robert Dostal (Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University), a specialist in Kant, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. Thus the department entered the 1980’s with regular staffing of 6 members: Ferrater-Mora, Kline, Potter, Weaver, Krausz, and Dostal.

Perhaps the most important development in the 1970’s was the ever closer cooperation with the philosophy department of Haverford College. Prior to 1973, Bryn Mawr students could take courses in philosophy at Haverford, but could not use these courses for either departmental or College requirements. Through various stages, a much more open and cooperative arrangement was established under which courses at the counterpart institution counted for the major. Students could even choose to major at the other institution. Notable faculty in philosophy at Haverford in the 1970’s with whom many Bryn Mawr students studied included Paul Desjardins, Richard Bernstein, and Aryeh Kosman.

In 1977-78 Stephen Toulmin visited as a Flexner lecture. His series was entitled “Living a Life.” Other prominent visitors in the 1970s included Hannah Arendt, Arthur Danto, and Marjorie Greene. In 1971 the College bestowed its highest honor, the M. Carey Thomas Award on Hannah Arendt, who in her remarks on that occasion said:

It is primarily ‘through the academic program that Bryn Mawr defines who she is, what she offers, and what she stands for.’ I’m quoting from what your own people say. This is simple, isn’t it? And it is also simple to focus on what it is that we are supporting, instead of being panicked and pressured into supporting causes which, whatever their worth might be, are not causes of the mind and not problems which the university is able to solve. But it is precisely this simplicity of purpose and this quiet, undisturbed self-confidence that underlies it, which makes Bryn Mawr outstanding—outstanding also in her program and of course her faculty.

The 1980s

The 1980’s saw the retirement of Jean Potter and the discontinuation of the graduate program in philosophy. Potter was not replaced when she retired. The department then came to its current size of four faculty (not counting what are now two philosophers in the political science department). In the 1980’s a number of Ph.D.’s were awarded—to Patrice DiQuinzio, Walter Lammi, Eric von der Luft, Terrence Wright, Shaun Gallagher, Michael Prosch, Rebecca Carr—but after 1986 no more graduate students were admitted.

The 1980’s was also the time in which the Fullerton Club came to an end and the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium (GPPC) superseded it. Michael Krausz was one of the co-founders and early directors of the GPPC, which has fostered conversation among the philosophers in the Delaware Valley and has brought many important philosophers to the area and occasionally to Bryn Mawr. One of their programs in the mid-80’s at Bryn Mawr with Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas filled Thomas Great Hall to overflowing. Both these philosophers visited Bryn Mawr at other times at the department’s invitation. Other visitors to the department in the 80’s included Paul Ricoeur, Richard Rorty, Annette Baier, and Alisdair MacIntyre.

The 1990s and the New Century

George Kline’s retirement in 1991 might be considered the end of an era for the philosophy department. His retirement was the occasion for a particularly memorable symposium in April 1991. Among those who came to honor George were Joseph Brodsky, the Nobel laureate for literature (poetry) and the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. Kolakowski spoke and Brodsky read his poetry. Kolakowski, a much awarded philosopher, was the first recipient of the Kluge Prize (in 2004) from the Library of Congress (sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize in the humanities).

In 1992 Kline was replaced by Margaret Little, who had just finished her Ph.D. at Berkeley in ethics. She taught ethics and feminist theory and led the Bi-College program in Feminism and Gender Studies. She left the College in 1994 for Georgetown University and the Kennedy Institute for Ethics. The department replaced her with the appointment of Christine Koggel in 1996. Koggel’s primary area is ethics and feminism. She approaches ethics from a global perspective and counts among her books a widely used textbook with the title, Moral Issues in a Global Perspective. She has done research in the field (Indonesia) about the ethics of development. With her appointment, the core staffing of the department for more than the next decade was established: Weaver (logic), Krausz (interpretation, philosophy of science, aesthetics), Dostal (Kant, phenomenology, hermeneutics), and Koggel (ethics and feminism).

In 1994 President MacPherson named Robert Dostal Provost. He was the College’s second Provost, a position first established in the 1980’s. Though Dostal continued to teach an occasional course, he was largely absent from the department through his eight years as Provost. During this time, the department made a number of short term appointments to replace Dostal. These appointments included established philosophers elsewhere who took a leave to come here: Stephen Crowell from Rice, Michael McKenna (then of Ithaca College, now at Florida State), Margaret Chatterjee from the University of Delhi (India), and Andrew Brook from Carleton University (Canada). Others of these appointments were to philosophers early in their career who have gone on to permanent positions elsewhere: Abraham Roth (University of Illinois at Chicago), J. D. Trout (Loyola University, Chicago) Lanier Anderson (Stanford), Jennifer Gosetti (Maine), Shannon Musset (Utah Valley University), and Kenneth Richman (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences). The list of visitors also included Rosemary Desjardins, a long-time friend of the department and prominent Plato scholar. This is an impressive list of philosophers who brought distinctive specialties and a variety of perspectives to the department. At the same time, the turnover undercut the continuity and predictability of the curriculum.

Dostal returned to the department full-time in the fall 2003. In the same year the department appointed Cheryl Chen (Ph.D. Berkeley). She specialized in questions concerning perception and skepticism. She left the College in 2007 for a position at Harvard. George Weaver retired in 2008. In the same year the department appointed Bharath Vallabha (Ph.D. Harvard) whose work has focused on questions in the philosophy of mind. Another important appointment for the philosophy department was appointment in 2002 in Political Science of Jeremy Elkins (Ph.D. Berkeley), whose research concerns the philosophy of law. He teaches a variety of courses in the philosophy of law; he also teaches courses on Nietzsche and Hegel.

Since the early 90’s, funded by the gift in honor of Milton Nahm, the department has held monthly colloquia with visiting lecturers. Among this long list of speakers we find Bernard Williams, Bernard Harrison, Kenneth Schmitz, Alexander Nehamas. Jitendra Mohanty, Robert Nozick, Karsten Harries, and Stephen Stich. Annually one speaker is jointly sponsored with the Haverford department. In the 2005-06 the College hosted Anthony Appiah of Princeton for a set of Flexner lectures. His lectures were titled “The End of Ethics?” and have been published by Harvard University Press under the title, Experiments in Ethics.


Contact Us

Department of Philosophy

Professor Macalester Bell
100F Dalton
Department Chair
Email: mcbell@brynmawr.edu
Phone: 610-526-5680