Peg O'Connor


Professor in Philosophy

I fell hard for Wittgenstein as an undergraduate philosophy major. I was simultaneously perplexed, charmed, befuddled, dubious, challenged, and so importantly, engaged by Wittgenstein's writings. Who could resist someone who wrote "What is your aim in philosophy? To shew the fly the way out of the fly-bottle." Years later (how many I will not say), his philosophy still guides my philosophical pursuits. Wittgenstein is my intellectual companion in all my work.

My interest in Wittgenstein is happily and productively combined with ethical matters. I have published two books on Wittgenstein and ethics. The first is Oppression and Responsibility (2002) and the second is Morality and Our Complicated Form of Life (2008). I am also the co-editor of Feminist Interpretations of Ludwig Wittgenstein (2002).

I regularly teach PHI 247: Applied Ethics, a course in which we explore the moral depth of many of our common ordinary practices and activities. I enjoy teaching this course so much because we focus on acquiring skills that enable us to engage in moral inquiry and transform moral disagreements in productive, useful, and respectful ways.Lisa Heldke and I each regularly teach PHI 102: Racism and Sexism. Over the course of more than ten years, we have developed an interlocking set of readings with a particular theoretical framework that resulted in our publishing Oppression, Privilege, and Resistance (2004).

My work is presently heading in two directions though they seem destined to intersect. I have written several essays that interrogate the mind/body dualism from the perspectives of abuse and trauma survivors.

My other recent work brings philosophical insights to issues of addiction and recovery. I have a new book forthcoming January 2016 titled, Life on the Rocks: Finding Meaning in Addiction and Recovery. Here is a link to a short interview from The Huffington Post  I also have four pieces in The New York Times, one of which examines Plato's allegory of the cave as a way to understand addiction and recovery. Another piece rejects the analogy that addictions hijack brains. The third explores William James's notion of a "misery threshold." Links to them are found here:

I also have  blog with Psychology Today titled, "Philosophy Stirred, Not Shaken."   The address is: I also have a blog with, which is an online resource for all matters treatment related. The address is These blogs are proving to be way too much fun.

While on sabbatical AY 2011-12, I was an AA Heckman Fellow at the Hazelden Foundation in Center City, Minnesota. My scholarship on philosophy and addiction both influences and is influenced by my work with the office of the dean of students on alcohol and drug education programs.

I am the Conference Chair for Nobel 51 "Addiction: Exploring the Science and Experience of an Equal Oportunity Condition." The conference will be livestreamed as well as archived on the Gustavsu website.


B.A. Wesleyan University, 1987M.A. University of Minnesota, 1993Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 1996

Courses Taught

PHI-108 (Great Philosophers), PHI-147 (Applied Ethics), and PHI-246 (Ethical Theory)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
GWS-118 Feminist Controversies 16 2018/SP, 2017/SP, 2016/SP, 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2011/SP, 2010/FA, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/FA, and 2008/SP
WOM-118 Introduction to Women's Studies 10 2007/SP, 2006/SP, 2005/FA, 2003/FA, 2003/SP, 2002/FA, 2001/FA, 2001/SP, and 2000/FA
GWS-380 Coll:Feminist/Pop Cult 9 2017/FA, 2016/FA, 2015/FA, 2014/FA, 2012/FA, 2010/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, and 2007/FA
PHI-247 Applied Ethics 9 2014/FA, 2013/FA, 2013/SP, 2011/SP, 2008/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, and 1999/FA
PHI-246 Ethical Theory 8 2020/SP, 2017/FA, 2016/FA, 2015/FA, 2014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, and 2010/FA
PHI-115 Formal Logic 8 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2006/FA, 2004/JN, 2003/SP, 2001/SP, and 1999/FA
WOM-380 Colloquium: Special Topic 6 2006/FA, 2005/FA, 2003/FA, 2002/FA, 2002/SP, and 2001/SP
PHI-102 Racism and Sexism 5 2007/SP, 2004/SP, 2002/SP, and 1999/FA
PHI-136 Formal Logic 4 2020/FA, 2019/FA, 2017/FA, and 2016/FA
PHI-104 The Individual and Community 4 2000/SP and 1999/SP
PHI-108 Great Philosophers 3 2020/FA, 2020/SP, and 2013/FA
PHI-147 Applied Ethics 3 2020/FA, 2019/FA, and 2015/FA
PHI-371 Sem:Phil & Addiction 3 2019/FA, 2016/SP, and 2013/SP
PHI-202 Modern Philosophy 3 2010/SP, 2009/SP, and 2000/SP
FTS-100 First Term Seminar 3 2002/FA, 2001/FA, and 2000/FA
PHI-248 GenderKnowledgeReality 2 2020/SP and 1999/SP
GWS-260 Global Feminisms 2 2009/FA and 2007/FA
PHI-103 Mind and Matter 1 2011/SP
PHI-210 Commodity Culture 1 2006/JN
WOM-268 Career Exploration 1 2006/JN
POL-380 Feminist Political Thought 1 2004/SP
POL-399 Thesis 1 2004/SP
NDL-224 Just Food 1 2003/JN
WOM-360 Feminist Theories 1 2001/FA
PHI-116 Radical Social Commentary 1 2000/JN
Courses prior to Spring semester 1999 are not displayed.