Who is William Frankena?June 26, 2021
William Frankena, born Wibe Klaas Frankena, was an American moral philosopher who lived from 1908 to 1994. William Frankena was a professor of philosophy and chair of the philosophy department at the University of Michigan, where he worked for 41 years.
William Frankena was born in 1908 in Manhattan, Montana, the son of Nicholas A. Frankena, a farmer, and Gertie Vander Schaaf. William Frankena, one of the most important figures of moral philosophy in the middle of the twentieth century, contributed to the history of philosophy with his work “Ethics” (1963), a series of highly influential articles on the foundations of ethics and a book translated into eight different languages. These articles and his book are still used in philosophy chairs in world universities today.
Frankena grew up in Zeeland, a Dutch reformer community in western Michigan, where her family moved shortly after she was born. Frankena studied at Calvin College, where she earned her BA. Frankena began her graduate studies in philosophy in 1930 and at Michigan. He continued his doctoral studies at Harvard, where C.I. Lewis had the opportunity to work with Ralph Barton Perry and Alfred North Whitehead. Frankena married happily married Sadie Roelofs in 1934, and the couple had two sons.
Frankena at Cambridge University in 1934-36, G.E. He spent a year working with Moore and in 1937 earned a doctorate in philosophy from Harvard. His thesis titled “Recent Intuitionism in British Ethics” formed the basis of his later article “The Naturalistic Fallacy”. This article later became one of the main texts in the field of analytical moral philosophy.
Moore argued in his Principia Ethica (1903) that moral naturalism was a fundamental fallacy. However, with the analytical rigor that would characterize his entire philosophical career, Frankena managed to demonstrate on logical ground that there was nothing that deserved to be called “error”. Frankena argued that it was a form of moral blindness that intuitionist critics of naturalism, such as Moore, accused her of.
In 1937 Frankena went to Michigan, where she would work and retire until 1978. There, Frankena became part of one of the most prized moral philosophy departments in the country, with the participation of Charles Stevenson and Richard Brandt, receiving almost every degree and award the University of Michigan can offer. Frankena served as Chair of the Philosophy Department at this school from 1947 to 1961, receiving the University’s Distinguished Achievement Award and Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy. In 1978 he was honored as the first Senior Lecturer at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. He has also been a visiting scholar at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Washington University, and the University of Tokyo.
Frankena was elected President of the American Philosophical Society’s Western Division in 1965-66 and taught the prestigious Carus Lectures at the association in 1974. He also served as chairman of the Philosophical Studies Council from 1965 to 1972 as a member of the American Academy. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Frankena also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science.
As a philosopher, Frankena was known for structuring philosophical issues and theoretical approaches to reach new insights. He has carried his work across a wide range of topics, from meta-ethics, ethical history and normative ethical theory, to moral education, moral psychology and applied ethics. Frankena also took a serious interest in educational philosophy and religious morality, doing work highly respected by scholars in these fields. The scope and quality of Frankena’s philosophy on ethics was extraordinary.
Translation and Compilation: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım
Source: Memorial minutes from the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association, May 1995 (Volume 86, no. 5), pp. 95-96