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Phillip Nelson

Lecturer in Philosophy

Phillip’s research and interests involve political philosophy of war, phenomenology, and existential philosophy. In his dissertation, “War & Responsibility: A Political Phenomenology,”  he argues that responsibility is an essentially political phenomenon, and, in war, it is inversely related to the proximity of battle. This thesis follows from Hannah Arendt’s argument that appearance is the defining characteristic of the political realm, that individuals must appear among a plurality of witnesses to be political at all. Thus, soldiers—who are fundamentally different than civilians and distinct from the political realm—are not appearing individuals, but instead belong to the troop, which is a homogenous institution, rather than a plurality of individuals. Because soldiers do not appear among this plurality, they cannot be agents of political speech and action, and are therefore not politically responsible for war in the same way as civilians. Phillip’s future work will explore other political terms related to responsibility, such as testimony and patriotism.

More About Me

Phillip is a US Army veteran who served in multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008. Phillip received his BA in English from Penn State Harrisburg, his MA in Philosophy from the University of Oregon, and his PhD in Philosophy from Stony Brook University.