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Philip Hillmer

Profile picture for Philip Hillmer

Contact Information

Department of Philosophy
105 Gregory Hall
810 S Wright
M/C 468
Urbana, IL 61801

Research Areas



The University teaching responsibilities assigned to me are part of a dual faculty appointment as a research professor in the Department of Philosophy and a lecturer in philosophical and applied ethics in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  The primary course for which I have been give instructional oversight is entitled Ethics and Engineering — cross-listed as ECE/Philosophy 316.  The title itself reflects the substance of the course as an upperdivision class in philosophy, wrestling with the fundamental questions of Ethics, the principles and significance of which are then worked out in the practice of a profession as applied in the context of the discipline of Engineering.  For a thematic overview of the entire course, see the course home page

The work in which I am involved here at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign has taken shape in the context of a research trajectory in which I am exploring the intellectual foundations of modern thought from Kant to Nietzsche and into the labyrinth of postmodern discourse, with the goal of constructing a viable model of epistemological realism through which we are able to engage anew in our age the fundamental questions of normative ethics.  This work is integrally related to the essential task of a university, for one of the central objectives of a university education is to equip citizens with a clear moral compass, with a corresponding worldview encompassing every area of life, and with the critical tools needed to provide the leadership required to preserve and to sustain a morally coherent society — and one of the primary purposes of the discipline of philosophy, at its heart, is to facilitate this task that has been entrusted to the universities of our land.  See the related diagrams entitled The Universe of the University and The Discipline of Philosophy — “What is true?” (Epistemology), “What is real?” (Metaphysics), and “How do we live in light of what we consider to be the truth of reality?” (Ethics).


Research Interests

Philosophical and Applied Ethics



  • Ph.D., 1996, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.  Research Focus: "The Inner Structure of Kantian Epistemology."  Thematic Abstract: An analysis of the epistemological core and essential argument structure of the Critique of Pure Reason — the cornerstone, foundation, and first major work of Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy — which delimits objective and determinate knowledge to the phenomenal sphere of sense perception.  Review: See the manuscript review of this work by Arthur Melnick, Emeritus Professor and established Kant scholar in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.*