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Kevin Scharp

Teacher, Philosopher

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Department of Philosophy

200 Gregory Hall
810 S Wright St
Urbana, IL 61801 


About Me

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri where I grew up and attended Washington University. In 1991 I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. I decided on a career in philosophy late in my undergraduate career, so after graduation I moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to attend the master’s program in philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. I wrote my thesis on William James with Robert Schwartz as my advisor. Upon completion, I was undecided on whether I wanted to focus on analytic or continental philosophy. Instead of choosing between them, I decided on the PhD program at Northwestern, which, at that time, was strong in both traditions. While at Northwestern I settled on analytic philosophy, but by then, the analytic wing of the department had collapsed. I transferred to the University of Pittsburgh in 2001, where I wrote a dissertation under the supervision of Robert Brandom. Once the dissertation was defended, I took a position as an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University in 2005. In 2010, I was promoted to Associate Professor, and then to Full in 2014. In 2016 I made the move to the University of St Andrews where I was the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre and supervisor of the Conceptual Engineering Research Seminar, for five years. In 2022, I left St Andrews for the University of Twente and the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technology (ESDIT) project. In addition to doing philosophy, I create content (video, podcast, blog) and I do computational finance (algorithmic derivatives trading).

My partner, Alison Duncan Kerr, and I currently live in Scotland with our three children. We love to play in the outdoors, including hiking, camping, backpacking, canoeing, and climbing.


Recent Teaching

PY4663 Artificial Intelligence and Philosophy

University of St Andrews, Spring 2021

Artificial Intelligence is a huge factor in all our lives today, and
it has many significant philosophical implications. We begin by investigating strands
of artificial intelligence, including machine learning. Students take Google's Machine
Learning Crash Course as part of gaining expertise and understanding of AI. The
major philosophical issues associated with AI are surveyed, including explainable
algorithms, the ethics of robots, self-driving cars, autonomous weapons, and how to
control superintelligence. In addition, we investigate ways of using artificial
intelligence in philosophy to investigate philosophical topics, test philosophical
theses, and generate philosophical arguments.

Recent Publications

"The End of Vagueness: Technological Epistemicism, Surveillance Capitalism, and Explainable Artificial Intelligence," Minds and Machine 32: 585–611 (2022).

"Conceptual engineering for truth: aletheic properties and new aletheic concepts," Synthese 198, 647–688 (2021).

“Philosophy as the Study of Defective Concepts,” in Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics, Burgess, Cappelen, and Plunkett (eds.), Oxford University Press, 2020.

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198801856.001.0001



In the Space of Reasons: Selected Essays of Wilfrid Sellars.

Co-Edited with Robert Brandom

Harvard University Press



Replacing Truth

Oxford University Press



Semantics for Reasons

Co-Authored with Bryan Weaver

Oxford University Press


Kevin Scharp

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Department of Philosophy

200 Gregory Hall
810 S Wright St
Urbana, IL 61801 

kscharp [at] gmail [dot] com

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