Michael Kremer

Michael Kremer
Mary R. Morton Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy
Stuart Hall, Room 224
Office Hours: On leave 2021-22; by appointment
University of Pittsburgh PhD (1986); University of Toronto BA (1980)
Teaching at UChicago since 2002
Research Interests: Logic, Philosophy of Language, Early Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of Mathematics

Michael Kremer is the Mary R. Morton Professor of Philosophy and in the College. He received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1986; prior to joining the University of Chicago he taught at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on the history of analytic philosophy, especially Frege, Russell, and the early Wittgenstein. His current project is on the philosophy of Gilbert Ryle, with special reference to the knowing how/knowing that debate. He also has long-standing interests in logic and the philosophy of language, as well as the relationship between reason and religious faith.


Selected Publications

“Margaret MacDonald and Gilbert Ryle: A Philosophical Friendship,” British Journal of the History of Philosophy (online first DOI: 10.1080/09608788.2021.1932409).

“Cora Diamond on Wittgenstein’s Unbearable Conflict,” Teorema 40 (2021): 199-213. 


“Gilbert Ryle on Skill as Knowledge-How,” in The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Skill and Expertise, C. Pavese and E. Fridland, eds. (London: Routledge, 2020)

“Definitions in the Begriffsschrift and the Grundgesetze,” in Essays on Frege’s Basis Laws of Arithmetic, M. Rossberg and P. Ebert, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)

"Ryle's 'Intellectualist Legend' in Historical Context," The Journal of the History of Analytical Philosophy 5(5) (2017): 16-37. DOI 10.15173/jhap.v5i5.3204

"'One of my feet was still pretty firmly encased in this boot': Behaviorism and The Concept of Mind," in Analytic Philosophy: An Interpretive History, Aaron Preston, ed. (Routledge, 2017)

"A Capacity to Get Things Right: Gilbert Ryle on Knowledge," European Journal of Philosophy (2016) - online first. DOI 10.1111/ejop.12150

“Acquaintance, Analysis, and Knowledge of Persons in Russell,” in Acquaintance, Knowledge, and Logic: New Essays on Bertrand Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy, B. Linsky and D. Wishon, eds. (Stanford: CSLI Publications, 2015)

The Whole Meaning of a Book of Nonsense: Introducing Wittgenstein’s Tractatus,Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy, M. Beaney, ed. (Oxford University Press 2013)

What is the Good of Philosophical History?”, in The Historical Turn in Analytic Philosophy, E. Reck, ed. (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013)

Russell’s Merit,” in Wittgenstein’s Early Philosophy, J. Zalabardo, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)


Michael Kremer's Recorded Lecture

Recent Courses

PHIL 20100/30000 Elementary Logic

(HIPS 20700, LING 20102, CHSS 33500)

An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic. We learn the syntax and semantics of truth-functional and first-order quantificational logic, and apply the resultant conceptual framework to the analysis of valid and invalid arguments, the structure of formal languages, and logical relations among sentences of ordinary discourse. Occasionally we will venture into topics in philosophy of language and philosophical logic, but our primary focus is on acquiring a facility with symbolic logic as such.

2020-2021 Winter

PHIL 31414 MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

(MAPH 31414)

This course is designed to provide MAPH students – especially those interested in pursuing a PhD in Philosophy – with an introduction to some recent debates between philosophers working in the analytic tradition. The course is, however, neither a history of analytic philosophy nor an overview of the discipline as it currently stands. The point of the course is primarily to introduce the distinctive style and method – or styles and methods – of philosophizing in the analytic tradition, through brief explorations of some currently hotly debated topics in the field. The course will be divided into six units; with the exception of the first unit, all of the topics discussed in this course can be seen as primarily located in epistemology, the theory of knowledge. Yet in the course we will also be thinking about topics in such areas as metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of language.

The first unit of the course will focus on the nature of analytic philosophy and the idea of analysis. This will be followed by units on the analysis of knowledge, the propagation of knowledge through testimony, practical versus theoretical knowledge, the propagation of practical knowledge, and justice and injustice in epistemology.

The course will be run as a mixture of lecture and discussion. All students should come to class having done the assigned reading and prepared to engage in a productive discussion. Students will write three short papers (6-8 pages) and provide discussion prompts on the Canvas site for the course.


This course is open only to MAPH students. MAPH students who wish to apply to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy are strongly urged to take this course.

2020-2021 Autumn

PHIL 50114 Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

This course will provide a close reading of Wittgenstein’s only published book. We will place the Tractatus in the context of Frege and Russell’s logical works, examining Wittgenstein’s debts to and critique of his predecessors. We will explore both the overall strategy of the book and the contemporary debate about how to read its mysterious, seemingly self-undermining conclusion, and the details of his views (e.g. the “picture theory” of language, the context principle and meaning, the nature of logic, the general form of proposition, the accounts of mathematics, science, and ethics). We will close with a brief discussion of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy in relation to the Tractatus. Secondary literature will include selections from Ramsey, Ryle, Anscombe, Geach, Hacker, Conant, Diamond, Goldfarb, Kremer, Ricketts, and Sullivan. (II)

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 21620 The Problem of Evil

(RLST 23620)

"Epicurus's old questions are yet unanswered. Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?" (Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion)This course will consider the challenge posed by the existence of evil to the rationality of traditional theistic belief. Drawing on both classic and contemporary readings, we will analyze atheistic arguments from evil, and attempts by theistic philosophers to construct "theodicies" and "defenses" in response to these arguments, including the "free-will defense," "soul-making theodicies," and "suffering God theodicies." We will also consider critiques of such theodicies as philosophically confused, morally depraved, or both; and we will discuss the problem of divinely commanded or enacted evil (for example the doctrine of hell). (A) 

2018-2019 Spring
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 42961 Social Epistemology

This course will introduce some main themes of Social Epistemology, that is the study of knowledge in relation to social institutions and relationships. The course will focus on four topics: epistemic authority; testimony as a source of knowledge; peer disagreement and epistemic conflict; and epistemic justice and injustice. (III)

The course is exploratory: the instructor is relatively new to this field and will be learning the material with the students.

2018-2019 Winter
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 54701 The Philosophy of Gilbert Ryle

Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) was one of the leading figures of mid-20th century Oxford Philosophy. This course will focus on a close reading of his 1949 masterpiece, The Concept of Mind, with its attack on the "category-mistake" of the Cartesian "Myth of the Ghost in the Machine." Attention will be paid to Ryle's metaphilosophical writings and his views on language, his views on knowledge (and the distinction between knowledge-how and knowledge-that), his relation to behaviorism, and his impact on subsequent developments in the philosophy of mind including the token-token identity theory and functionalism. (III)

2016-2017 Spring
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2017. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2016-2017 Spring

PHIL 20100/30000 Elementary Logic

(CHSS 33500, HIPS 20700)

An introduction to the techniques of modern logic. These include the representation of arguments in symbolic notation, and the systematic manipulation of these representations in order to show the validity of arguments. Regular homework assignments, in class test, and final examination. Course not for field credit.

2016-2017 Autumn

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2016. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2016-2017 Autumn

For full list of Michael Kremer's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.