William Cornwell

Professional Details

Title Professor
Department Philosophy
Office Sullivan Building 203B4A
Phone 978.542.6060
Email william.cornwell@salemstate.edu
Photo of William Cornwell

Recent and Upcoming Courses

PHL 125 Critical Reasoning
PHL 313 Philosophy of Mind

Professional Biography

William Cornwell received his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Connecticut, where he wrote a dissertation on naturalized epistemology and philosophy of mind under the supervision of Ruth Garrett Millikan.  His undergraduate degree in philosophy is from San Jose State University in California. He has taught full time at Drew University, Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington), the United States Military Academy ("West Point"), and Salem State University, where he began teaching in 2005. He was Chair of the Philosophy Department from 2010-2013 and is especially proud that during that time the department got approval to offer a B.A. in Philosophy, effective fall of 2014.

Professional Interests

Professor Cornwell's publications and presentations have been on epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, ethics, just war theory, social philosophy, and history of philosophy.

More information about his interests and background, as well as copies of his publications, are available at http://www.linkedin.com/in/williamcornwell and https://salemstate.academia.edu/WilliamCornwell.


Professor Cornwell regularly teaches Reality and Knowledge, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science, Symbolic Logic I, Critical Reasoning, Introduction to Philosophy, and Business Ethics, as well as a variety of other classes occasionally such as the honors seminar on ethics and the capstone course for philosophy majors. He has served on many university and departmental committees at Salem State University.

Selected Publications

"Human Nature Unbound: Why Becoming Cyborgs and Taking Drugs Could Make Us More Human." In Values & Technology, Religion & Public Life vol. 37, ed. Gabriel Ricci (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction, 2010).

"The Burden of Autonomy: Non-combatant Immunity and Humanitarian Intervention." Ethical Perspectives 12.3 (September 2005): 341-355.

"Where Ethics and Epistemology Meet: Michael R. DePaul's Balance and Refinement." Journal of Value Inquiry 31.3 (September 1997): 399-406.

"Epistemological Holism and Semantic Holism." In Perspectives on Coherentism, ed. Yves Bouchard (Aylmer: Éditions du Scribe, 2002).

"Is Perception Inferential?" In Experience and Analysis: Papers of the 27th International Wittgenstein Symposium: August 8-14, 2004: Kirchberg am Wechsel, ed. Johann Christian Marek and Maria Elisabeth Reicher (Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, 2004).

Selected Presentations


"Dirty Hands Syndrome and the Waning of Trust in Government." Oxford Round Table, Oxford University. 08/2007.

"The Organism as Servant of Many Masters." American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting. Chicago, IL. 05/1998.

"Can the Ethical Naturalist Respond to Moore's Open-Question Objection?" Society of Value Inquiry in conjunction with the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting. Chicago, IL. 04/2005.

"Some Problems with Peter Abelard's Moral Theory." International Conference on Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. Fordham University in New York, NY. 10/2004.

"The Burden of Autonomy: Noncombatant Immunity and Humanitarian Intervention." Jus in Bello: The Ethics and Conduct of War. Institute of Applied Ethics at the University of Hull in England. 09/2004. The talk also was delivered as part of Salem State College's First Lecture Series in 03/2006.

"Doin' What Comes Natur'lly: Hobbes and the State of Nature." 28th Conference on Value Inquiry. Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. 04/2000.

"Making Sense of the Other: Husserl, Carnap, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein." The Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. Boston, MA. 08/1998. See the Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Comp/CompCorn.htm.

"Are There Any Immoral Acts? A Study of Abelard's Ethics." Representation and Interpretation in the 12th Century: An Interdisciplinary Conference. D'Youville College in Buffalo, NY. 04/1995.

"Pragmatism, Naturalism, and Political Philosophy." 22nd Annual Meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. Waltham, MA. 03/1995.

"Ethical Nonobjectivism and Social Pluralism." 22nd Conference on Value Inquiry. Drew University in Madison, NJ. 04/1994.


"Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?" Conference of Philosophical Societies Meeting at the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting. Chicago, IL. 02/2014.

"The Ethics of Cognitive Augmentation." Philosophical Psychology Lab Workshop at Gordon College. Wenham, MA. 01/2010.

"Can Fregean Senses Save the Ethical Naturalist from Moore's Open-Question Argument?" American Society for Value Inquiry Session at the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting, Chicago, IL. Forthcoming in 04/2005.

Member of symposium, "Understanding Disabilities: Visible and invisible." Salem State College (Salem, MA): 11/2005.