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President Valerie Smith's Charge to Elizabeth Anderson '81

Elizabeth Anderson was once described by the New Yorker as “the philosopher best suited to this awkward moment in American life.” Working at the intersection of philosophy, economics, and other social sciences, Elizabeth examines how social inequality manifests itself in daily life, in an effort to create an equal plane upon which everyone can thrive.

A pragmatist, Elizabeth specializes in ethics, social and political philosophy, feminist theory, and social epistemology, in addition to the philosophy of economics. Her scholarship has included books on the effects of racial segregation as a cause of status inequality between Black and white Americans, as well as on the scope of power often exercised by employers over workers’ lives, speech, and privacy. Elizabeth’s extensive body of work has been lauded for its contributions to philosophical debates over a range of topics, including relationship structures and democratic equality. 

Elizabeth is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Michigan. She is also a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and one of Prospect magazine’s top 50 thinkers for the COVID-19 era.

And now, Elizabeth, upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.