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Kris Phillips - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Kris Phillips

Department Chair and Associate Professor of Language & Philosophy | Southern Utah University


Specializing in epistemology, metaphysics, individual variation, and the philosophy of religion, mind, dance, and education


Dr. Kris Phillips is an associate professor of philosophy at Southern Utah University whose primary research includes early modern philosophy, specifically the work of Rene Descartes. He is published in several philosophy journals and books in modern philosophy, the philosophy and pedagogy of dance, pre-college philosophy, the philosophy of education and the philosophy of mind. He is Associate Editor of the journal Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice, and is co-editor of the book, “Arrested Development & Philosophy,” a philosophical analysis of the cult hit television show.

Before joining SUU in 2014, Phillips taught at Northern Michigan University. He is co-founder of two high-school summer programs for students interested in philosophy: the Iowa Lyceum and the Utah Lyceum. He is engaged in projects surrounding the philosophies of education, mind, dance, and popular culture.

Dr. Phillips earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Central Michigan University and a master's degree in philosophy from Western Michigan University. He went on to get a second master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy from University of Iowa. A long-time member of the American Philosophical Association, Dr. Phillips serves on the APA's pre-college instruction in philosophy committee, and the curriculum committee for the APA/PLATO's (Philosophical Learning and Teaching Organization) AP Philosophy Course.







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Kristopher Phillips - A.P.E.X. Speaker on 01/28/2021 Major Decisions: Philosophy SUU: A Community of Caring Meet Our Professors: Kris Phillips, Philosophy Intro to SUU 2250 with Professors Lindsey Roper and Kris Phillips


Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (10)


Philosophy of Religion


Philosophy of Dance

Philosophy of Education



Philosophy of Mind

History of Modern Philosophy

Pre-College Philosophy

Education (4)

Central Michigan University: B.S., Philosophy

Western Michigan University: M.A., Philosophy

University of Iowa: M.A., Philosophy

University of Iowa: Ph.D., Philosophy

Accomplishments (8)

College of Humanities and Social Sciences Early Career Award (professional)

Awarded by Southern Utah University.

Most Valuable Professor (professional)

Awarded by Southern Utah University Athletics.

Council on Teaching Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (professional)

Awarded by University of Iowa.

SUU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Innovative Pedagogy Award (professional)


SUU Distinguished Educator Award (professional)


SUU Distinguished Faculty Lecturer (professional)


Finalist for the APA/AAPT Prize for Excellence in Philosophy Teaching (professional)


Finalist for the APA/AAPT Prize for Excellence in Philosophy Teaching (professional)


Affiliations (7)

  • Student Assessment Intervention Team
  • American Philosophical Association
  • Philosophical Learning And Teaching Organization (PLATO)
  • Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Society
  • Allies on Campus
  • Associate Editor of Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice
  • Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy at John Cabot University (Summer 2022)

Media Appearances (4)

SUU hosts free philosophy summer camp for middle school, high school students

St George News  online


Every summer since 2015, SUU has planned, organized and hosted the Utah Lyceum – an outreach program providing local middle school and high school students the opportunity to explore philosophy. This free summer camp is led by SUU professors Kris Phillips and Kirk Fitzpatrick. Students will also receive lunch each day and copies of the books of focus in addition to free professional instruction.

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High school students learn how to think at ‘Utah Lyceum’

St. George News  online


How many high schoolers today, or for that matter people in general, are adept at wrestling with such topics as good versus evil, what is necessary for morality to function properly and whether values are universal or differ from person to person? These issues and many more were tackled by a group of 17 high school students at Southern Utah University last week at the “Utah Lyceum,” a five-day philosophy summer camp for students ages 13 and older.

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WSW: Are Liberal Arts a Moral Obligation?

WMUK  online


"Kristopher Phillips says we have a moral obligation to study the liberal arts. The assistant professor of philosophy at Southern Utah University will make his case Thursday, March 16, at Western Michigan University..."

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Vigil Planned in Memory of Orlando Victims

The Spectrum News  online


Members of the Southern Utah University Allies on Campus are holding a candlelight vigil on Thursday to mourn the 49 people killed by a lone gunman. Kris Phillips, assistant professor of philosophy and co-chair of Allies on Campus, agreed that the Orlando tragedy has impacted far more than the LGBT community in every state.

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Event Appearances (3)

Is it Important that Education Be Practical?

Psychology Department Colloquium Series  Northern Michigan University


There are Clear Limits on Distinct Perception: Truth, Truth-Makers and the Scope of Cartesian Foundational Knowledge

Intermountain Philosophy Conference  Idaho State University


Yet Another Paper on Descartes’s Argument for Mind-Body Dualism

Intermountain Philosophy Conference,  Utah State University


Articles (14)

Two Dogmas of Enlightenment Scholarship


Seth A. Jones, Kristopher G. Phillips


A central theme in the scholarly literature on Enlightenment Europe concerns the increased focus on the role of reason in the development of European thought, especially in the development of the new science by the natural philosophers. As a consequence, there is a tendency in both philosophical scholarship and teaching to bind philosophy and science tightly together. While there is certainly much that is correct in this approach, one motivation for pluralizing philosophy’s past is that this story leaves out a great deal that is important in Enlightenment views of reason. We argue, using as an example the work of figures like Margaret Cavendish, that reason was significantly broader in scope—and that developments in science were paralleled by equally important advances in music, art, literature, medicine, philosophy, and other areas.

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Arrested Development as Philosophy: Family First? What We Owe Our Parents


Kristopher G. Phillips


Narrator Ron Howard tells us that Arrested Development is the “story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.” The cult-classic follows Michael Bluth – the middle son of an inept, philandering, corrupt real-estate developer, George Bluth Sr., who is arrested for white-collar crimes. Constantly faced with crises created by his eccentric family, Michael does his best to preserve the family business, put out fires, and serve as a role model for his teenage son, George Michael. The Bluths’ misadventures raise the question, what, if anything, do adult children owe their parents?

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Educating Professionals

The Prindle Institute for Ethics

Kristopher G. Phillips


There is a popular conception that the purpose of higher education is some form of job-training. A cursory Google search will produce a number of articles asking whether college is a “sound investment,” or whether college graduates make more money than their peers who elect to forego college for work. Virtually every one of these articles defines the worth of a college degree in purely economic terms. There is little room to deny that, in our modern liberal democracy, making money is a practical necessity. Yet, I think there is something deeply confused about the attempt to reduce the value of education generally — and higher education specifically — to the economic gains that come from education. I have argued elsewhere that conflating the so-called “practicality” of education with the “vocationality” of education is a conceptual mistake, so I will not rehearse those arguments here.

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Teaching Dance and Philosophy to Non-Majors: The Integration of Movement Practices and Thought Experiments to Articulate Big Ideas


Megan Brunsvold Mercedes & Kristopher G. Phillips


Philosophers sometimes wonder whether academic work can ever be truly interdisciplinary. Whether true interdisciplinarity is possible is an open question, but given current trends in higher education, it seems that at least gesturing toward such work is increasingly important. This volume serves as a testament to the fact that such work can be done. Of course, while it is the case that high-level theoretical work can flourish at the intersection of dance and philosophy, it remains to be seen how we might share this with undergraduate students. For many of us in philosophy and dance, a large number of the students we teach are neither philosophy nor dance majors. As such, we are familiar with the challenge of convincing our students to care about our fields.

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An Asynchronous Student Philosophy Conference

Blog of the APA

Kristopher G. Phillips, Greg Stoutenburg


Utilizing Google Docs and Google Drive, a coordinated schedule, and sharing commentary guidelines, we were able to develop and run an asynchronous undergraduate epistemology conference. Especially given the challenges presented to all of us in the coming year, we believe that the structure, utilization of free resources, and outcomes we saw from this experimental approach could be easily replicated, and provides an opportunity most undergraduates do not have to engage with their peers across the country in a sustained, structured way.

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The Kids are Alright: Philosophical Dialogue and the Utah Lyceum

Diverse Approaches to Dialogue in Public and Precollege Philosophy

Kristopher Phillips

This paper serves as a call to philosophers both to create more precollege philosophy programs, and to push back against the instrumentalization of the value of philosophy.

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Guest post by Kristopher G. Phillips on the Lyceum Program for High Schoolers

Philosophical Percolations

Kristopher Phillips

I’ve been teaching high school students a week’s worth of philosophy each summer for the past three years, and I’ve had tremendous success doing it. I suspect that my experiences are probably not representative of how all high schoolers would respond for a number of reasons that I’ll outline later, but given the trend toward commodifying education and turning universities into STEM trade-schools, I think that exposing students to philosophy before college is increasingly important.

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The Kids are Alright: Philosophical Dialogue and the Utah Lyceum

Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice

Kristopher G. Phillips


This paper serves as a call to philosophers both to create more precollege philosophy programs, and to push back against the instrumentalization of the value of philosophy.

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Non-Canonical Texts and Teaching the History of Modern Philosophy: Why We Might as Well Go Ahead and Abandon the Survey – Part I

Journal of the APA


There has also been significant discussion regarding the appropriate way to incorporate underrepresented figures in our Modern philosophy classes. Expanding the canon introduces a challenge not entirely unfamiliar to any teacher: how do we cover all the material that deserves attention in one semester? I am still relatively new to teaching philosophy (I am in my third year of a tenure-track position, and my fourth year of full-time teaching), but I have a modest proposal to help address this challenge.

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Non-Canonical Texts and Teaching the History of Modern Philosophy: Why We Might as Well Go Ahead and Abandon the Survey – Part II

Journal of the APA


In this post I will describe my experience with this approach, outline its virtues and the challenges I faced. Additionally, I will offer some of the feedback my students gave me about the course, and ways in which I intend to improve the class in future iterations. In effect, I hope to offer a template for how to effectively abandon the modern survey.

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Bojack Horseman and the Danger of the Partially Examined Life


Tessa Brunnenmeyer and Kristopher G. Phillips


We intend to discuss the ways in which Bojack’s approach to post Horsin’ Around life exemplifies the dangers that self-knowledge can have. In Simone de Beauvoir’s autobiography Force of Circumstance she warns that “Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.” While Bojack does have moments of self knowledge, he has been beaten down so consistently that he has learned to shut it off and has lost the courage to “fight” for happiness.

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Is Philosophy Impractical? Yes and No, but that's Precisely Why We Need It

Why the Humanities Matter Today: In Defense of Liberal Education

Kristopher Phillips

"The whole of philosophy is like a tree. The roots are metaphysics, the trunk is physics, and the branches emerging from the trunk are the other sciences, which may be reduced to three principles ones, namely medicine, mechanics, and morals."

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The Utah Lyceum: Cultivating "Reasonableness" in Southwest Utah

Growing Up with Philosophy Camp: How Learning to Think Develops Friendship, Community, and a Sense of Self

Kristopher Phillips and Gracia Allen

How Learning to Think Develops Friendship, Community, and a Sense of Self

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Teaching Dance and Philosophy to Non Majors: The Integration of Movement Practices and Thought Experiments to Articulate Big Ideas

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Dance and Philosophy

Kristopher Phillips and Megan Brunsvold

Teaching Dance and Philosophy to Non Majors: The Integration of Movement Practices and Thought Experiments to Articulate Big Ideas

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Courses (10)

PHIL 1000 Introduction to Philosophy

This course introduces some of the themes, works, figures, and topics in the Western philosophical tradition. It explores questions involving value, human nature, knowledge, and rationality.

PHIL 1250 Reasoning and Rational Decision Making

Students discuss and explore some of the methods and principles that distinguish logically good reasoning from bad. They learn how to use formal systems to recognize, construct, and evaluate every-day argumentation.

PHIL 3011 Philosophy of Religion

This course examines arguments for and against the existence of God. In doing so, students explore questions such as: what is the nature of God? Is divine foreknowledge consistent with human freedom? How do we evaluate testimony regarding religious matters? Do reason and logic matter when it comes to religion?

PHIL 3300 Theory of Knowledge

This course examines epistemology, accounts of knowledge. Topics include belief, opinion, justification, common sense, faith, skepticism, truth, and error.

PHIL 3400 Mind, Language & Reality

This course examines issues in metaphysics. Topics include causation, determinism, consciousness, artificial intelligence, language, and reality.

PHIL 4010 Senior Seminar

A capstone course for philosophy majors that surveys a central philosophical problem(s). Prerequisite: Successful completion of one course in each area of the major.

PHIL 4120 History of Modern Philosophy

Examines Modern Philosophy through the works of Bacon, Descartes, Kant, the empiricists, and the rationalists.

PHIL 4850 Independent Research

This course is an independent study with a professor on an approved topic.

HONR 1040 Foundations of Honors

Students are introduced to and explore the fundamental skill-sets required to succeed as students at Southern Utah University and in the SUU Honors Program by developing an understanding of the complete student experience at college and the interdisciplinary nature of an Honors education. The class emphasizes seminar-style discussions and teamwork, develop students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills, and explore issues related to holistic student heath and well being.

HONR 2010/4010 Dialogue in the Disciplines

Students study a specific topic or theme. Communication and general analytical skills are stressed. Students are required to attend selected Convocation presentations.