Quayshawn Spencer

Quayshawn Spencer

Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy at University of San Francisco.

Visiting Professor 2009-2010

Hosted by Prof. Sally Haslanger, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy


Quayshawn Spencer is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy at University of San Francisco. Prof. Spencer specializes in the philosophy of science and biology, with interest in Newtonian studies, philosophy of race and ethics.

He holds a BA in Chemistry and an MA in Biology from Cornell University. He earned his PhD and was a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University.

His faculty mentor at MIT was Prof. Sally Haslanger in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. As an MLK Visiting Professor, Prof. Spencer taught one course, a graduate seminar in philosophy of biology with an emphasis on race as a case study. In addition to teaching and research, he participated in a variety of workshops and seminars and engaged with colleagues in the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology and Medicine in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society.


The “Genomics and Philosophy of Race” conference aims to foster a dialogue about race, and, in particular, about relationships between ideas of race and modern genomics research. Four panels of experts and two keynote speakers will consider scientific, historical, sociological, and philosophical questions: Does contemporary genomics inform and shift our classifications, conceptualizations, and consciousness of race? To what extent is race real? Which inferences, if any, about the body, mind, and culture might race and related concepts (e.g., ancestry and ethnicity) ground? We invite students, researchers, and the public at large to join our conversation.


Peer Reviewed
  1. Spencer, Q. (forthcoming). A Radical Solution to the Race ProblemPhilosophy of Science.
  2. Botts, T.F., Bright, L.K., Cherry, M., Mallarangeng, G., and Spencer, Q. (forthcoming). What Is the State of Blacks in Philosophy? Critical Philosophy of Race.
  3. Spencer, Q. (2014). The Unnatural Racial Naturalism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 46(in progress): 38-43.
  4. Spencer, Q. (2013). Biological Theory and the Metaphysics of Race: A Reply to Kaplan and Winther. Biological Theory 8(1): 114-120.
  5. Spencer, Q. (2012). What 'Biological Racial Realism' Should Mean. Philosophical Studies 159(2): 181-204.
  6. Spencer, Q. (2004). Do Newton's Rules of Reasoning Guarantee Truth ... Must They? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 35(4): 759-782
Other Publications
  1. Spencer, Q. (2013). Introduction to "Is There Space for Race in Evolutionary Biology?" Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. (Featured here on Dugdug.com)
  2. Spencer, Q. (2013). "Race", in The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Hugh LaFollette (ed.). Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.
  3. Spencer, Q. (2009). Is Cladistic Race a Genuine Kind? Ph.D. Thesis. Stanford University, Stanford, CA.