Joshua Brown


Associate Professor and Department Chair in Philosophy

BA, Carleton College; PhD, University of Michigan.

I took a meandering path to philosophy and Gustavus. I started my academic life as a chemist, tickling small molecules with lasers and watching their electrons jump. But two years into my PhD program, I realized that my lasers and I just didn’t get along and that I was much better suited for a field that demanded less skill at practical problem solving. So I fled chemistry for an MA program in philosophy, eventually making my way to the University of Michigan, where I wrote a dissertation on how we ought to go about answering questions about what exists. Before coming to Gustavus, I was an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston.

In my research, I worry about: what the world is really like; how we find out what the world is really like; and how we represent the world both in our scientific theories and in our ordinary thought and talk. So, for example, I’ve worked on whether or not there are really tables and chairs, on how we know there are atoms, and on how we manage to talk about Harry Potter and other things that don’t exist. I regularly teach a variety of courses that touch on these issues—philosophy of science, metaphysics, philosophy of language—along with introductory philosophy classes and advanced seminars. And I love teaching logic!

Courses Taught

PHI-213 (Mind and Matter) and PHI-371 (SEM:Existence)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
PHI-236 Formal Logic 5 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/FA, 2013/SP, and 2012/FA
PHI-103 Mind and Matter 4 2015/SP, 2014/SP, and 2013/SP
PHI-251 Philosophy of Science 3 2020/SP, 2015/SP, and 2012/FA
PHI-109 Philosophical Puzzles 3 2020/SP, 2019/FA, and 2019/SP
PHI-144 ST:Philosoph Puzzles 3 2018/FA, 2017/SP, and 2016/SP
PHI-244 ST:Philosoph Methods 3 2017/SP and 2016/SP
FTS-100 FTS:Living Well 3 2016/FA, 2014/FA, and 2013/FA
PHI-371 Sem:Philosophy of Time 3 2016/FA, 2015/SP, and 2014/FA
PHI-136 Formal Logic 2 2018/FA and 2015/FA
PHI-234 Contemporary Analytic Philosophy 2 2016/FA and 2013/FA
PHI-108 Great Philosophers 2 2015/FA and 2014/FA
CUR-260 Natural World 2 2015/FA and 2014/SP
PHI-290 Philosophical Methods 1 2020/SP
PHI-213 Mind and Matter 1 2017/SP
PHI-370 Sem:Metaphysics/Life 1 2012/FA