Derek Turner

Derek Turner

Class of '43 Professor of Philosophy
Karla Heurich Harrison '28 Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment

Joined Connecticut College: 2001

B.A., American University
M.A., Ph.D., Vanderbilt University


Philosophy of science

Philosophy of biology

Environmental philosophy

Derek Turner regularly teaches Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, Bioethics, Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, The Science and Ethics of Extinction, and Darwin. He also enjoys teaching courses on the history of philosophy. In the fall of 2016, he taught a new ConnCourse on The Meaning of Dinosaurs.

A past winner of the John S. King Award for Excellence in Teaching, Turner is Associate Director of the College’s Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment. He was awarded the 2017 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Award for Excellence in Research.

Turner’s research focuses on philosophical issues in historical science, especially paleontology and the earth sciences. He is interested in understanding how scientists come to know things about the deep past. Some of his recent work explores the big ideas of macroevolutionary theory: historical contingency, evolutionary stasis, species selection, and the study of large-scale evolutionary trends. He is the author of Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate (2007) and Paleontology: A Philosophical Introduction (2011).

He has also written on a variety of topics in environmental philosophy: the ethics of radical environmental activism; the precautionary principle; NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”) activism; as well as rewilding and de-extinction. The NIMBY project was a joint effort with Simon Feldman.

Turner has had visiting fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Philosophy of Science and most recently at the KLI in Klosterneuburg, Austria.

He is also a founding editor and contributor to a new blog for philosophy of paleontology: Extinct.

Visit his personal website & to learn more about his work.

Visit the philosophy department website.

Majoring in Philosophy.

Majoring in Environmental Studies.

Contact Derek Turner

Mailing Address

Derek Turner
Connecticut College
Box # PHILOSOPHY/Blaustein Humanities Center
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


306 Blaustein Humanities

Personal Website