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Rutgers philosophy program earns international recognition

Rutgers has one of the highest ranked philosophy programs in the country. The department has begun to attract attention from international institutions like Tsinghua University in China. – Photo by Jeffrey Gomez

The Department of Philosophy has repeatedly been ranked as one of the best in the country, and now continues to be recognized internationally.

Tsinghua University, one of the best philosophy departments in China, has a special book series where they publish Western philosophical studies. Their March issue includes a section dedicated to philosophy at Rutgers, and they translated six influential articles from some of the University’s most famous philosophers into Chinese.

The section of the book dedicated to the Department of Philosophy was written by three of its faculty members — Douglas Husak, Peter Klein and Chair of the Department of Philosophy Larry Temkin.

Rutgers philosophers have been the recipients of numerous national and international honors, awards and fellowships from prominent universities like Oxford, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford.

“In recent years (the department has received) multiple awards from the Humboldt Foundation, numerous Guggenheim awards, been admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, been awarded the prestigious Jean Nicod Prize in Philosophy and Cognitive Science, for lifetime contributions to both disciplines, won the biannually awarded American Philosophical Association Book Prize and earned four of the eight Phi Beta Kappa and American Philosophical Association Lebowitz Prizes for Philosophical Achievement,” the book says.

In recent polls posted on the Leiter Report: A Philosophy Blog, longtime Rutgers philosophy faculty member Jerry Fodor was ranked as the world’s most important English-speaking philosopher of mind since 1945, according to the issue.

Current Department of Philosophy faculty members Alvin Goldman and Ernest Sosa were also ranked as the first and third greatest living English-speaking epistemologists.

In addition to the department’s well renowned full-time faculty, Rutgers has brought many distinguished philosophers to campus as regular ongoing visiting professors to teach its graduates and undergraduates.

Until his untimely death on Jan. 1, 2017, Derek Parfit, Rutgers’ longtime visiting professor, was ranked as the world’s most important living English-speaking moral and political philosopher, the book issue says.

Parfit was also awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in Philosophy and Logic by the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts and Sciences for lifetime contributions to philosophy, a prize which many regard as the Nobel Prize of philosophy.

In the 2016 rankings of the Philosophical Gourmet Report, a ranking of philosophy departments in the English-speaking world based on the judgments of over 300 international professional philosophers, the Rutgers Department of Philosophy was ranked third overall, behind only NYU and Oxford University.

“In addition to our general overall strength, the department is currently ranked as one of the world’s top 15 departments in 12 important subfields of philosophy, as a top three department in six subfields and as the world’s very best department in the important subfields of philosophy of language and epistemology,” the page says.

The Rutgers Department of Philosophy takes particular pride in its active undergraduate philosophy community, the article said.

The department places undergraduate teaching at the very center of its mission, and many of its undergraduate majors participate in an energetic philosophy club in addition to running Rutgers’ undergraduate journal, Arête, it said.

Rutgers also has an active honor society in philosophy, Phi Sigma Tau, into which only the very best undergraduate majors are admitted, the article said. The department places students into high-ranking graduate programs for philosophy and law every year.

According to the book’s section, Rutgers' faculty has a deep and longstanding commitment to serious engagement with issues of race, gender, ethnicity and diversity.

For many years Howard McGary, professor in the Department of Philosophy, has organized the Rutgers Summer Institute for Diversity in Philosophy — a program designed to expose undergraduates of diverse backgrounds to graduate-level work in philosophy, the book said. It is a tradition within the department to teach in Professor McGary’s institute.

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