Rockefeller University Philosophy Program

compiled by James C. Klagge.

There is a short account of the Rockefeller program by its chair for several years, Harry Frankfurt, “Reflections of My Career in Philosophy,” in Portraits of American Philosophy, ed. Steven Cahn, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013, pp. 103–128, esp. pp. 113–117.  (Originally published in Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, November, 2011, pp. 89–107, esp., pp. 96–98.)  He concludes with: “That was the end of what I suppose was a somewhat spectacular, but not really a very successful, episode in the history of American philosophy.”

Here is a list I have compiled of philosophers that were associated with the program at Rockefeller, gathered from a variety of sources:

Philosophy Faculty:

Henry Kyburg—Research Associate (1961–1962)

Ludwig Edelstein—(1963–1965)

Harry Frankfurt—Research Associate (1963), Associate Professor (1964–1968), Professor (1969–1976), Chair (1966–1973)

Ernest Nagel—(1966–1967)

Joel Feinberg—(1967–1977)

Robert Nozick—Associate Professor (1967–1969)

Margaret Wilson—Assistant Professor (1967–1970)

Sydney Shoemaker—(1968–1969)

John Earman—(1969–1971)

Donald Davidson—(1970–1976)

Marshall Cohen—(1970)

Daniel Isaacson—Research Associate (1971-–973)

David Pears—Visiting (1967)

Willard Quine—Visiting (Spring, 1968)

Brian McGuinness—Visiting (1970)

Anthony Kenny—Visiting

John Dolan—Visiting (1970)

John Wallace—Visiting (1971)

Thomas Nagel—Visiting (1973-–974)

Joseph Raz—Visiting (1974)


Logic Faculty:

Hao Wang—1967–1991)

Saul Kripke—(1967–1976)

Leslie H. Tharp—1967–1974)

Donald Anthony Martin—(1967–1976)

Robert M. Solovay—(1967)

Kenneth McAloon—Visiting (1976)


Graduate Students:

Eugene Kleinberg—Logic (PhD: 1969)

Michael Jubien—(1972)

Jules Coleman—(1972)

Daniel Farrell—(1974)

Michael Bratman—(1974)

David Malament—(1975)

Scott Weinstein—(1975)

Robert Hambourger—(1976)

John Bruer—(1978)

Jonathan Lear—(1978)

John Simms—Logic (1979)

Norton Batkin

Howard Burdick

Alan Berger

Kenneth Henley—Graduate Fellow (1969–1970)

In his blog Brian Leiter offered reflections on “The US Philosophy Hierarchy Over 50 Years,” including the following comments on Rockefeller (

“Leap ahead to the early-to-mid 1970s, and a new powerhouse program had arrived: Rockefeller University in New York, with Joel Feinberg, Donald Davidson, Saul Kripke some of the time, Harry Frankfurt, and others. Rockefeller hadn't displaced Harvard or Princeton, but it was competitive with Pittsburgh and Michigan and Cornell. Berkeley, UCLA, and Stanford were now solidly top ten departments by anyone's estimation, MIT was close, Columbia and Yale weren't, and maybe Chicago was. Rockefeller Philosophy came to abrupt end in 1976, when the administration decided to focus solely on the sciences, and the top-flight faculty scattered--Davidson to the University of Chicago, Feinberg to the increasingly prominent University of Arizona, Frankfurt to the fractured Yale Department, Kripke to Princeton.”

While it is true that Kripke ended up at Princeton, his mother sent him a letter addressed to him at the UCLA Philosophy Department in 1977.  I know because I saw the letter—I was a grad student there from September 1976–June 1983.  We assumed it was because she believed that is where he had decided to go.  (He had a standing offer from UCLA.)

I would appreciate any corrections or additions to this compilation of information.  I have contacted several people from the program, but none have offered any assistance.