The Teens: a snapshot

In 2019-2020 the full professors were John Burgess, Adam Elga, Dan Garber, Hans Halvorson, Elizabeth Harman, Mark Johnston, Tom Kelly, Sarah-Jane Leslie (who was serving as Dean of the Graduate School), Hendrik Lorenz, Ben Morison, Alexander Nehamas, Gideon Rosen, and Michael Smith; the associate professors were Des Hogan, Boris Kment, and Sarah McGrath; and the assistant professors were Johann Frick, Grace Helton, Harvey Lederman, and Una Stojnic. Tori McGeer served as lecturer with the rank of professor; Daniel Berntson, Ian Campbell, Marcus Gibson, Reza Hadisi, Cosim Sayid, and Johanna Schmitt served as lecturers; and Sam Berstler, Silvia De Toffoli, and Daniel Hoek were Postdoctoral Research Associates. Rachel Barney (Toronto) was Long-Term Visiting Professor with the Humanities Council. Cian Dorr (NYU) gave the Hempel Lectures and Lisa Downing (OSU) gave the second Margaret Dauler Wilson Lecture, the first having been given by Christia Mercer (Columbia) in 2016.

A number of assistant professors during the teens—Shamik Dasgupta, Johann Frick, Harvey Lederman, and Una Stojnic— were ultimately tenured. Frick, who was jointly appointed with UCHV, built the Department's 200-level "Introduction to Moral Philosophy" course to the point where in the Fall of 2020, with an enrolment of 373 students, it had the largest enrolment of any philosophy class at Princeton in living memory. Because the course was given during the pandemic, the lectures were made available online. Many can still be seen on Frick's YouTube channel.  

The creator of "The Good Place," Michael Schur, was a surprise guest speaker at the Department's first-ever Virtual Class Day event in 2020, again because of the pandemic. In his remarks to our graduates, Schur – whose other credits at that time included "The Office," "Parks and Recreation" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" – revealed that he had been "dabbling in philosophy as a rank amateur for about ten years" and said that he was in awe of our graduates' decision to pursue a degree in philosophy. Shur eventually published his own philosophy book, "How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question" (2022).

At the end of the teens, through the generosity of alumni and other donors, the Department began a postdoctoral program. Sam Berstler was the inaugural Desai Family Postdoctoral Research Associate, and Daniel Hoek the inaugural Louis Skolnick Postdoctoral Research Associate. When Hoek gave his first graduate seminar, the class began with a discussion of Robert Jaeger's "Action and Subtraction" Philosophical Review (1973). Unbeknownst to Hoek, the philosopher Robert Jaeger was none other than Bob Jaeger '65 who had been involved in fund-raising for the postdoctoral program that funded Hoek's position.

In the middle of the teens, John Cooper retired after teaching in the Department for thirty-five years having served as Chair, Director of the Program in Classical Philosophy, and Director of Placement. During the teens, Cooper had the distinction of delivering the John Locke Lectures at Oxford University (2011), a distinction he shared with two other Princeton philosophers in the teens – Michael Smith (2017) and Philip Pettit (2019). These three joined the ranks of five other Princeton philosophers who had delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford University – Gregory Vlastos (1959-60), Donald Davidson (1969-70), Saul Kripke (1973-74), David Lewis (1983-84), and Bas van Fraasen (2001). Read more about Cooper's accomplishments.

In 2017, Gilbert Harman retired after teaching in the Department for fifty-three years, serving for many years as Director of Graduate Studies. His broad expertise – Harman taught courses in many core areas of philosophy including epistemology, philosophy of mind and psychology, and moral philosophy, as well as courses cross-listed in linguistics, psychology, and even electrical engineering – together with his popularity as a dissertation adviser, led to his having supervised one in every seven of the graduate students who went through the Graduate Program in Philosophy while he taught with us. In 2013 the Department brought several of these students and his former colleagues back to campus for a conference to celebrate his 50 years of teaching at Princeton. Read more about Harman's accomplishments.

2017 also saw the untimely passing of Delia Graff Fara, who had served the Department with distinction as assistant professor (1997-2001), associate professor (2005-2011), and full professor (2011-2017). Fara was a singular presence in philosophy: intense, vivid, quick to laugh, but also relentless in her insistence on explicitness and rigor. You can read more about Fara's accomplishments in The New York Times obituary.