Alan White

Alan White's picture

Alan White


Office: H140
(920) 683-4695

I'm a full professor in the University of Wisconsin Colleges Philosophy Department. As such I teach freshman and sophomore level courses almost exclusively – the UWC, composed of 13 campuses across the state, is mainly a transfer-feeder institution for the other 13 baccalaureate campuses.  My department colleagues are among the very best I've ever met, anywhere, anytime. No, we won't ever do the Carus or Gifford lectures. Our teaching loads prohibit putting out many landmark books (though we've outpublished many of our baccalaureate sibling departments). When it comes to teaching at the more introductory levels, however, I would put us up against anyone.

As for me – I'm a pretty basic analytic philosopher, nontheist, (card-carrying) skeptic, materialist (of some sort– just a non-Cartesian most aptly), though also enchanted by poetry, music, and silliness of all varieties (particularly British, being an unremitting Anglophile). I have a somewhat unusual background in that I come from shall we say underprivileged Southern stock, was for a time an evangelical Christian (trained for the ministry in fact, and have an undergraduate degree in religion as well as philosophy), and received my philosophical training from a "jock school" (as someone at an APA put it).  My interests are mostly in the areas of analytical metaphysics and philosophy of science, but I suppose I intellectually (and attitudinally) align quite nicely with the "Canberra planners".

1996 Wisconsin Professor of the Year, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
2009 Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Achievement

Curriculum Vitae 

In Books

"A.I. : Artistic Indulgence or Advanced Inquiry?," in Steven Spielberg and Philosophy (We're Gonna Need a Bigger Book), ed. by Dean Kowalski, University Press of Kentucky, 2011.

"Freedom and World-Views in The X-Files," in The X-Files and Philosophy, ed. by Dean Kowalski, University Press of Kentucky, September 2007.

"Alfred North Whitehead" in The Great Thinkers A-Z, ed. by Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom, 2004.

"Introductory Philosophy--A Restricted Topic Approach," in Teaching Philsosophy, ed. by Tziporah Kasachkoff, Rowman and Littlefield, 2004.

"Antinomy" (song) in Roy A. Sorenson, A Short History of Paradoxes, Oxford, 2003.


"B-Time: A Reply to Tallant" (with L. Nathan Oaklander) Analysis 67, 2007, 332-340.

"Not Present and Accounted For" in Chronos: Proceedings of the Philosophy of Time Society 2006.

"Making Hume Mind His Manners" Chronos: Proceedings of the Philosophy of Time Society 2005.

"Philosophy Songs: In the Best Tradition From Thales to Dennett," Teaching with Technology Today, 2003, and The American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Computing 2004.

"Quick Thinking? Not So Fast!" Sorites #15, December 2004, and Chronos: Proceedings of the Philosophy of Time Society 2004.

"Frankfurt on Personal Failure" Sorites #12, May 2001, 66-69.


Review of David Hodgson Rationality + Consciousness = Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press 2012 in Philosophy in Review (forthcoming 2013).

Review of A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy: From Russell to Rawls, Stephen P. Schwartz, (Wiley- Blackwell) 2012, in Teaching Philosophy (forthcoimg 2013).

Review of Free Will: A Guide to the Perplexed by T. J. Mawson (Continuum, 2011) in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2011.

Review of Jonathan Bennett's A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals in The Review of Metaphysics, 2005.

Review of Graham Priest's Logic: A Very Short Introduction, co-author, David Gratz, Essays in Philosophy, 2004.

A.B. Northwest Nazarene University
M.A. University of Tennessee
Ph.D. University of Tennessee

Philosophy Songs

Philosophy Songs YouTube Channel

7. 11 "Whereof one cannot sing, thereof one must be silent."– L. Wittlessung, Tractatus Illogico-Philosophidisgust

These parodies are offered in the hope that philosophers, while deservedly known for serious devotion to the search for truth, also will forever treasure the Socratic levity of the Symposium. Not that you'll encounter that sort of delicate balance of insight and humor here, mind you. But in the spirit of such mind-fun, enjoy these humble offerings anyway.

The songs' lyrics may be viewed and my recordings of them (such as they are) may be shared. I provide midis for most of the songs as well so you can sing them on your own. ("gad-fly" is true karaoke – the midi lacks the melody!) Please note that no midi was copied in known violation of copyright.

The first four songs (and others besides either incomplete or forgotten) were first composed while I was a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. These "Songs of Innocence" were truly "drinking songs" which emerged from the taverns of the "Strip" where the philosophy grad students--and (self) selected faculty – gathered. One particularly well-remembered professor, mentor, and friend, Professor Richard Aquila, generously favored us with encouragement to develop our minds and senses of humor during those symposia, and to that extent deserves credit for any inspiration detected in these tidbits of ditty doggerel. At the same time, he is owed even more credit for discouraging us from the excesses of debauchery that we were given to by his near-Nicomachean penchant for the virtuous mean. To him and all friends in McClung Tower present and past, I dedicate my own version of the UT anthem.

Since leaving Tennessee in 1981, I've found a home among an outstanding collection of philosophers at the University of Wisconsin Colleges. My "Songs of Experience" were formed in their midst, and reflect their kinder, gentler environs, and perhaps as well, my own middling age.

These are a result of a lifelong obsession with satirical ditties – your encouragement or forgiveness may be expressed to me at

Thanks for visiting. 

NEW: A song about Being PFOed! In honor of my dear friend and mentor Richard E. Aquila, on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 

All song lyrics © 2013 V. Alan White

Song List (links to YouTube)

listed from newest to oldest


"He Stopped Publishing Today"

"Presentism's Hard to Prove"

"Φ Star"

"Don't Study—Think Crappy"

"The Liar Greets the Light"


"Two Sides Now"

"How Can I Mend the Beta Part?"

"Appraising Stace"

"De Facto"


"Goldstein's Writings"

"Good Inductions"


"Give Us Some Wisdom of Jim Cheney"

"Mens John"


"The Hook's a Bust"


"Ergo Sum"

"Fool's Water (Twater)"

"Teach Us Some Kant, Ken Cooley"


"The Dialogs of Hume"

"Make a Talk on the Ryle Side"

"I Can Think Clearly Now"


"Hume on the Brain"

"Readin' Kripke"

"We Didn't Start the Inquiry"

"Solipsism's Painless"


"The Gad-Fly Athenaios"

"This PhD" (audio unavailable)
(Sung to "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys) 

Who wants to hire a PHD?
Especially the one I have--in philosophy?


This PHD won't get jobs for you anymore,
and this PHD doesn't mean what it did before--
and if you want to get tenure-tracked in college,
it takes more than knowledge!

Time was that learning made you
the finest of the fine–
but now it just marks you as
the smartest in the jobless line!


This PHD only gives me another name
and this PHD is as useless as its frame–
and if you want to get tenure-tracked in college,
it takes more than knowledge!