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Q&A with Professor Benjamin Keil

Benjamin Keil

In the following Q&A, non-tenure track Professor Benjamin Keil shares some of his experiences in the Department of Philosophy at Illinois State University.

What got you into philosophy?

As a high school student, I participated in a debate league offering two types of competitions: Policy debate (which involved debating particular political proposals) and Lincoln-Douglas debate (which involved debating on the level of values.) Although I participated in both types of competitions, I most enjoyed the Lincoln-Douglas debates because of their sharp focus on conflicts concerning the “eternal questions.” In fact, in order to prepare for these debates, I greatly enjoyed reading Locke’s Second Treatise, Rousseau’s Social Contract, and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This interest in philosophy then continued in college, where I majored in philosophy and began to pursue a career teaching philosophy.

What are your philosophical interests?

My philosophical interests are relatively diverse, actually. I’ve done an M.A. thesis in the philosophy of language and a Ph.D. dissertation in philosophical methodology. But I also greatly enjoy learning more about applied ethics (especially medical ethics) and social/political philosophy.

What is your favorite philosophy book?

Interestingly enough, my favorite philosophy book is one of the first philosophy books I ever read: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Its timeless reflections concerning the good life and humanity’s nature provide ample material for a lifetime of reflection. Happily, I was able to draw on this great work for part of my dissertation—and in so doing I was able to add my own small reflections to the philosophical literature surrounding this great work.

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Orient, Ohio, not far from Columbus. Prior to Illinois State, I did my undergraduate work at Hillsdale College, a terminal M.A. in philosophy at Colorado State University, and I recently completed my doctorate at the University of Kansas.

What do you like to do outside of philosophy?

Outside of philosophy I greatly enjoy playing with my four children and spending time with my wife. We enjoy playing computer games together. I also enjoy bike riding and reading comic books.  (Captain America has been a longtime favorite character of mine.)

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