40th Annual MLK Celebration Leadership Award Recipient: Sally Haslanger

Sally Haslanger

Ford Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT

40th Annual MLK Leadership Award

Sally Haslanger holding her MLK Leadership Award. Courtesy: MIT Philosophy, 2014

Sally Haslanger is the Ford Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT, and an affiliate in the MIT Women's and Gender Studies Program. She was awarded a faculty MLK Leadership Award for her ongoing scholarship and teaching around issues of gender and race.

Prof. Haslanger has published four books, mostly recently Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (Oxford University Press, 2012). This collection of essays draws on insights from feminist and critical race theory to develop the idea that gender and race are positions within a structure of social relations. Prof. Haslanger argues that gender and race are not purely natural categories, they are also 'social constructs'. The American Philosophical Association awarded Resisting Reality the 2014 Joseph B. Gittler Prize for "outstanding scholarly contribution in the field of the philosophy of one or more of the social sciences."

[resisting-reality-haslanger] "I’m someone who thinks about my life philosophically and I live my philosophy," she says in a Q&A with MIT. "They’re not two separate domains for me, so it made perfect sense that I would begin to write about race in addition to writing about gender.

During her college years, Prof. Haslanger spent time living in France and India. In 1977, she graduated from Reed College with a combined philosophy-religion major and went to the University of Virginia for an MA in philosophy. She transferred in 1979 to the University of California, Berkeley, where she completed her Ph.D. 1985. Before arriving to MIT in 1998, she held teaching posts at the University of California-Irvine, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University.

Among her many courses offered at MIT was "Classification, Natural Kinds, and Conceptual Change: Race as a Case Study" (24.892), which she co-taught with then 2003 to 2005 MLK Visiting Professor Koffi Maglo.

From 2009-2013, Prof. Haslanger served as Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program and as President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in 2013-14. She gave the 2012 Carus Lectures at the Pacific Division meetings, titled "Doing Justice to the Social".

Prof. Haslanger's other honors include the 2010 Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the year by SWIP, the 2011 YWCA Cambridge Women of Distinction Award.