One of the major strengths of the Philosophy Department of Michigan State University is its focus on social and political thought, especially Critical Theory (broadly construed), Feminist Philosophy, Marxism, and Contemporary Political Philosophy. Work in this area spans from traditional debates over justice, freedom, and equality to more contemporary concerns with inequality, power, capitalism, colonialism, gender, race, class, and violence. 

In recent years individual faculty have published books and articles on themes in critical theory, Continental philosophy, feminism, African American thought, Hegelian political thought, postcolonial thought, global ethics, and the critique of liberalism. Topics include democracy, the politics of knowledge, capitalism, technology, social epistemology, science and democracy, peace studies, and law.

Students are encouraged to combine topics from this area with work in other areas of philosophy, such as philosophy and race, philosophy of law, philosophy of technology, environmental philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of food, health care ethics, and philosophy of medicine. Our current graduate students work on dissertation projects in these areas, such as

  • Engaged Philosophy of Law and Policy
  • An interdisciplinary approach to Latino immigrant health equity
  • Rape Ideology: Social Reproduction and Marxist Critique
  • Materialist Philosophy of Language
  • Critique and History
  • The Actuality of Truth: Adorno and Critical Theory
More information about our graduate students can be found here: 

Interdisciplinary work is also encouraged, particularly at the doctoral level.


More information about faculty areas and research can be found here:

Megan Dean

Feminist Philosophy, Bioethics, Science and Values

Heather Douglas
Philosophy of Science; Values in Science; Science in Society; Responsible Research; Science Policy

Steve Esquith
Political Philosophy; Global Ethics; Peace and Justice Studies

Leonard M. Fleck
Medical Ethics; Social and Political Philosophy; Deliberative Democracy; Health Care Policy

Fred Gifford
Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Ethics of Health Care; Health Care Ethics and Development.

Todd Hedrick
Contemporary social-political philosophy, philosophy of law, Frankfurt School critical theory.

Christian Lotz
Post-Kantian European philosophy, Continental aesthetics, phenomenology, critical theory, Marx, contemporary European political philosophy.

John McClendon
African American philosophers and philosophical traditions, African philosophy, Marxism, philosophy of sports, the African American experience, philosophy of religion and African Americans, philosophy of race.

Frederick Rauscher
Kant; German Idealism; Early Modern Ethics; Political Philosophy, Ethical Theory, Rawls.

Elena Ruíz
Structural justice, gender-based violence, women of color feminisms

Aaron Schultz
Buddhist Philosophy; Political Philosophy; Ethics

Lisa Schwartzman
Feminist Philosophy, Social & Political Philosophy, Ethics, Feminist theory, critiques of liberalism, philosophy of law, feminist approaches to autonomy, rights, and equality.

Faculty Book Publications