Faculty Profile

Chauncey Maher

Associate Professor of Philosophy (2008)

Contact Information


East College Room 202


Are there essentially social or normative aspects to cognition, knowledge, language or action? How so? Those are the sorts of big question that have interested me in my research and teaching. In the summer of 2012, I published a short book on "the Pittsburgh School", a group of contemporary philosophers focused on trying to understand how humans uniquely occupy a “logical space of reasons” .


  • B.A., University of Maryland, 2001
  • M.A., University of Chicago, 2002
  • Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2008

2016-2017 Academic Year

Fall 2016

FYSM 100 First-Year Seminar
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: - Critically analyze information and ideas - Examine issues from multiple perspectives - Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason - Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and - Create clear academic writing The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.

PHIL 201 Ancient Philosophy
This course is an introduction to central questions, claims and arguments in ancient philosophy, centering on the work of Plato and Aristotle. Potential questions include: What is the value of reason and knowledge? What is knowledge? Is it always better to be just than unjust? What constitutes a good human life? What kind of thing is a human being?Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 304 Philosophy of Language
What is the meaning of a word? How is it related to the thing or things it picks out? Can we provide a systematic account of the meaning of every sentence of a natural language (such as English, Japanese or Hebrew)? What is the relationship between what words mean and what we get across with them? In what sense, if at all, do we follow rules when we use language? This course is a seminar in which we will consider these sorts of questions among others. Prerequisites: three prior courses in philosophy, including 103 (Logic) and two at the 200 level, or permission of the instructor. Offered every two years.

Spring 2017

PHIL 103 Logic
The study and practice of forms and methods of argumentation in ordinary and symbolic languages,focusing on elements of symbolic logic and critical reasoning, including analysis and assessment of arguments in English, symbolizing sentences and arguments,constructing formal proofs of validity in sentential and quantificational logic.Offered every semester, or every three out of four semesters.

PHIL 261 Racism & Racial Injustice
In the United States, slavery was outlawed 151 years ago; segregated schools were ruled unconstitutional 62 years ago; discrimination in hiring was outlawed 52 years ago; and a black person has been president for nearly eight years. However, grave inequalities between black Americans and white Americans persist. Why? Racism, many are tempted to say. What exactly is racism? Is it simply anything that results in racial inequality? Does racism require intention? Does it require antipathy? Does it require harm? Although it’s tempting to say that racism is the cause of all racial inequality, are there other important causes? When does a racial inequality qualify as a racial injustice? Think now about race. Don’t need there need to be races if there is racism? What are races anyway? Are they real, or just social constructions? This course is an introduction to thinking philosophically about racism and racial injustice.