Kristin Seemuth Whaley, PhD

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

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Kristin Seemuth Whaley, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Graceland University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when she successfully defended her dissertation “Immaterialist Solutions to Puzzles in Personal Ontology.” Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s areas of specialization are in metaphysics and philosophy of religion, and she teaches the following courses for the Division of Humanities: Finding Peace in Identity, Environmental Ethics, Freshman Seminar: Critical Thinking, World Philosophy, and Social Dimensions of Equality.           

The courses Dr. Seemuth Whaley teaches cover a variety of issues in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion and ethics, drawing on literature from ancient, modern and contemporary philosophy. In her teaching, Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s goal is to help students take ownership of their learning experience so they may apply skills developed in the philosophy classroom to their lives and future careers. Her students learn how to evaluate arguments for philosophical conclusions, but also apply these skills to their personal experiences by evaluating arguments for and against their own opinions. When students take ownership of their learning in the philosophy classroom, they not only learn about significant views in epistemology or ethics; they also learn how to engage with unfamiliar lines of reasoning and become good problem solvers. They grow to be better equipped for all aspects of learning.

Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s primary focus is personal ontology, which is the study of what we are. She defends an immaterialist account of the nature of human persons that is well-suited to solve notoriously intractable puzzles. Discussion of these puzzles has largely centered on inanimate objects, but Dr. Seemuth Whaley pursues the challenges that arise for us as human persons. Because responses to these puzzles often require endorsing counterintuitive claims that would be unacceptable when applied to human persons, she argues that an immaterialist personal ontology is the only satisfactory solution. 

Studying philosophy will help you do those cliché things like broadening your mind and thinking deeply about profound matters. But it also fosters development of practical skills: identifying implicit lines of reasoning, reconstructing positions charitably, strengthening weak claims and writing with clarity. In her work, Dr. Seemuth Whaley tries to realize a combination of these benefits, retaining a fascination with the theoretical but encouraging engagement with the practical. 

Philosophy is all-encompassing, but when not explicitly thinking about her work, Dr. Seemuth Whaley likes to spend some of her free time practicing Ashtanga yoga.

Visit Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s website at to view her CV.

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