Silliman, Matthew R. 1956–

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Silliman, Matthew R. 1956–


Born 1956. Education: Earlham College, B.A., 1979; Purdue University, Ph.D., 1986.


Office—Department of Philosophy, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 375 Church St., North Adams, MA 01247. E-mail—[email protected]


Academician. North Adams State College, North Adams, MA, assistant professor of philosophy, 1986-93; Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, associate professor, 1993-2000, professor of philosophy, 2000—. Visiting assistant professor of philosophy at Earlham College, 1985.


American Philosophical Association, Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, North American Society for Social Philosophy, Capitol Area Philosophy Society, Society for Women in Philosophy, Society for Philosophy and Public Affairs.


Davis Foundation grant, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 2004-05.


Sentience and Sensibility: A Conversation about Moral Philosophy, Parmenides (Las Vegas, NV), 2006.

Contributor of chapters to various books.


Matthew R. Silliman has devoted his professional life to the field of philosophy. Earning his bachelor's degree in philosophy from Earlham College in 1979, Silliman completed his Ph.D. at Purdue University in 1986. That same year he started working as an assistant professor of philosophy at North Adams State College, and later at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Silliman's academic research interests include social, political, and Ancient Greek philosophy.

Silliman published his first book, Sentience and Sensibility: A Conversation about Moral Philosophy, in 2006. The book is shaped in the form of a philosophical discussion between individuals and uses common language, making it more accessible to a wider audience. Topics in the book include the origin and nature of moral values, moral standing of animals, abortion, vegetarianism, terrorism, education, and parenting. Reviews for the philosophical study were mostly positive. An article in PR Newswire described the philosophical conversation as ‘accessible and engaging,’ noting that Silliman ‘addresses matters of natural human concern with rigor and originality.’ David Gordon, writing in Library Journal, called the book appropriate for ‘valuable supplementary reading in courses on ethics.’ A contributor to the Midwest Book Review described it as ‘a thought-provoking examination of fundamental philosophical morality quandaries affecting humankind’ throughout the ages.

Silliman told CA: ‘I have been a voracious reader since I was a small child and always intended to become a writer. In my essays and dialogues, clarity and grace are as important to me as philosophical rigor (though one would like to think these are compatible!)

"[Ancient Greek philosopher] Plato's dialogues have always inspired me, again as much for their style as their content. Likewise, I am in eternal awe of [eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher] David Hume.

"My writing process is quite random; I read, feed the cat, worry, make lists, and await the spark that will give life to a chapter or paragraph. Then I try to nurture the spark into flame with endless editing and revision. The most surprising things I have learned as a writer are how difficult it is to write well and how much time editing takes.

"My favorite book of mine so far is Sentience and Sensibility. I want people to enjoy philosophy, to experience it as a natural, conversational process, and begin doing it for themselves. I am not so concerned that people agree with my conclusions (I may have changed my own mind about them by the time they're in print) as that they themselves participate in rigorous, creative thinking."



Library Journal, February 15, 2007, David Gordon, review of Sentience and Sensibility: A Conversation about Moral Philosophy, p. 125.

Midwest Book Review, March, 2007, review of Sentience and Sensibility.

PR Newswire, December 15, 2006, ‘Out of Sin City Comes a Book on Ethics."


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Web site, (October 8, 2007), author profile.