Department News

rationality of perception book cover

Siegel publishes The Rationality of Perception

January 18, 2017

Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy Susanna Siegel has published a new book, The Rationality of Perception, with Oxford University Press. The Rationality of Perception makes an important contribution to our understanding of the human mind and, specifically, to how we think of perception. According to a traditional conception of the human mind, reasoning can be rational or irrational, but perception cannot. Perception is simply a source of new information, and cannot be assessed for rationality. Susanna Siegel argues that this conception is wrong.

photo of derek parfit

In Memoriam: Derek Parfit (11 December 1942 - 1 January 2017)

January 4, 2017

It is with deep sadness that we report the loss to the philosophical community of Derek Parfit. For many years, Derek made this department another philosophical home, and during his time here he greatly enriched the lives of his faculty colleagues and students. It was a mark of Derek's generosity that, despite his eminence in the field, he could often be found talking enthusiastically with undergraduate students well after his class had ended.

portrait of William Ernest Hocking

Kickstarter campaign launched to digitize former department member's library

December 14, 2016

Although he has been dead for half a century, William Ernest Hocking, Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University—an endowed chair currently held by professor emeritus T. M. Scanlon—has enjoyed something of a revival of late.

tommie shelb's new book dark ghettos

Shelby's Dark Ghettos fills "normative gap" in discussions of urban poverty

December 8, 2016

In a country of obvious wealth—and one that purports to embrace the ideal of equality of opportunity for all of its citizens—why do American ghettos persist? Many theories have been advanced over the years to explain the persistence of American ghettos and various measures proposed and, occasionally, undertaken to address the problem of concentrated urban poverty. But for Tommie Shelby, Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy at Harvard University, the social scientific discourse about the ghetto has been marked by a curious omission.

brynn elliott

Three chords and some Kierkegaard

December 1, 2016

Kierkegaard and Sartre are to Brynn Elliott what Rimbaud and Blake were to Patti Smith: sources of deep musical inspiration. A junior philosophy concentrator, Elliott '18 is also a working musician, traveling on weekends to perform shows with her L.A. based band. But while some might find the demands of a music career and of being a philosophy concentrator overwhelming, as Professor Alison Simmons notes, "thinking through complex--and even some bizarre--ideas in class is Brynn's power source."