Allison Kuklok named Assistant Professor of Philosophy

By: Buff Lindau

Allison KuklokAllison Sara Kuklok, who earned her doctorate in philosophy from Harvard University in June of 2013, has been named Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Saint Michael's College, starting this semester.  

Kuklok, a resident of Winooski, wrote her dissertation on the British philosopher John Locke whose work is said to lie at the foundation of modern philosophical empiricism and political liberalism. Her dissertation title is "Conceptualism and Objectivity in Locke's Account of Natural Kinds." Her areas of specialization are Early Modern Philosophy, as well as Kant, Metaphysics, and Moral and Political Philosophy.  

Kuklok earned her bachelor's degree in philosophy, summa cum laude, from Wellesley College, where she earned a 3.9 GPA and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. 

Academic & Teaching Awards

Kuklok was awarded the Graduate Society Dissertation Completion Fellowship at Harvard, 2012-13, the Martin Prize Fellowship from the Harvard Philosophy Department, 2011-12, the Andrew Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, 2002-03, and First Prize, Three Generations Writing Competition, Wellesley, 2000. She was twice the recipient of the Bok Center Teaching Certificate of Excellence and Distinction in Teaching, Harvard, 2008, 2009. 

Kuklok was teaching fellow for 11 different Harvard courses from 2006 to 2010. She gave five refereed presentations in 2012 in Bucharest, at Princeton, Dartmouth, Dalhousie University and at the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Conference. Her topic was "Strings, Physies, and Hogs' Bristles: Objective Kinds in Locke."

Liberal arts colleges provide a unique community focused on student development

As a Wellesley student, Kuklok came to believe in the liberal arts. "That experience was transformative," she said. "I think the small liberal arts college is unique, as a community devoted to your personal, intellectual, and spiritual development - I like being part of that community," she said. 

As a Harvard graduate student, Kuklok was also a Resident Tutor (in place of any RAs) in a cooperative residence hall for 32 undergraduates. 

"I got to know Harvard students who were developing as people, and got to know them intellectually. At a liberal arts college, that's what you do - help them develop in lots of ways."

"In my research, I'm interested in the general question of the reality or mind-independence of the categories we find in natural language and the sciences, categories like human being, mammal, gold…do these categories reflect mind-independent facts, for instance, do the things we group together under a common name share the same essence? Contemporary philosophy," she said, "is skeptical about the notion of an essence, and skeptical that these categories are anything more than artifacts of language and the way that we happen to organize our knowledge of the world. In my dissertation I consider one famous answer to that question - John Locke's - and argue that Locke believed that things do share common essences, and independently of how we categorize the world."

Other interests

Kuklok, an avid fan of mystery novels, is also delighted that she is now able to have two kittens as pets - Mars and Margo. She also enjoys running, biking and hiking, and plans to get back into skiing. And she plans to increase her cooking expertise, now that she is no longer living and working in the residence halls, where meals cooked by students were provided.

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