Keith R. Peterson

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Office: Lovejoy 250 [ campus map ]
Box 4550

Phone: 207-859-4551
Fax: 207-859-4705
Mailing Address:
4550 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8845
Office Hours:
T TH 1:00-2:15, W 2-3:30
Peterson, Keith R.


Ph.D. in Philosophy, DePaul University, Chicago

Areas of Expertise

  • Continental Philosophy
  • Philosophies of Nature and Environment
  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Value Theory

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
PL126 APhilosophy and the Environment
PL240 AFreedom, Resentment, and the Other
PL243 AEnvironmental Ethics
PL378 ABeing, Difference, and Power

Other Courses Taught

CourseCourse Title
PL386Philosophers in Focus: Immanuel Kant
PL217Feminism and Science (Cross-listed with WGSS)
PL216Philosophy of Nature (Cross-listed with ES and STS)
PL328Radical Ecologies (Cross-listed with ES)
PL378Contemporary Continental Philosophy
PL126Philosophy and the Environment (Green Cluster)

Professional Information

Professor Peterson has been at Colby since 2008. His intellectual training was primarily in the civilized edifices of European (“Continental”) Philosophy from Kant to the present, though since about 2004 he has been trudging around the rural swamps, meadows, and farms of Environmental Philosophy. His primary areas of interest include Philosophies of Nature and Environment, Value Theory, and Philosophical Anthropology, and he regularly offers introductory and advanced courses in environmental philosophy and ethics, philosophy of nature, feminist science studies, and contemporary Continental philosophy. Some of these courses are cross-listed with Environmental Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies programs, and others are included in the College-wide writing across the curriculum and civic engagement initiatives at Colby. He is a member of the STS Advisory Board, and often teaches in the Integrated Studies Program’s popular Green Cluster. Since 2017 he has served as Leader of the Mellon Environmental Humanities Faculty Seminar, an initiative to foster the development of the Environmental Humanities at Colby

Current Research


Please refer to his Personal Web Page
Personal Web Page
Please refer to Personal Web Page for most current information.

A World not Made for Us: Topics in Critical Environmental Philosophy (In progress)

F.W.J. Schelling's First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature (1799), SUNY Press, 2004. Find it Here

Appearing here in English for the first time, this is Schelling's attempt to articulate a complete philosophy of nature. Written in 1799 and building upon his earlier work, the First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature provides the most inclusive exposition of Schelling's philosophy of the natural world. In it he presents a startlingly contemporary model of an expanding and contracting universe; a unified theory of electricity, gravity, magnetism, and chemical forces; and, perhaps most importantly, a conception of nature as a living and organic whole. With Introduction and Notes by the translator, this is also the first translation to be based on the new Schelling critical edition.


“Scenes of Disagreement: Nicolai Hartmann between Phenomenological Ontology and Speculative Realism,” in Early Phenomenology, Brian Harding and Michael Kelly, eds. (Forthcoming)

"Nicolai Hartmann's Critical Ontology: Stratification and Nonanthropocentrism," in Ontology of Nature, Gerard Kuperus and Marjolein Oele, Eds. (Forthcoming)

"Nicolai Hartmann's Philosophy of Nature: Realist Ontology and Philosophical Anthropology" Scripta Philosophiae Naturalis 2: 143-179 (2012) [ISSN 2258-3335]

"Ecosystem Services, Nonhuman Agencies, and Diffuse Dependence" in Environmental Philosophy, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2012.

"Translation of Nicolai Hartmann's 'How is Critical Ontology Possible?'" Axiomathes (2012) 22: 315–354.

"An Introduction to Nicolai Hartmann's Critical Ontology," Axiomathes (2012) 22: 291–314.

"Bringing Values Down to Earth: Max Scheler and Environmental Philosophy," Appraisal:
The Journal of the Society for Post-Critical and Personalist Studies, Re-Appraisal: Max Scheler
(Pt 2), Vol. 8, No. 4, October 2011.

"All That We Are: Philosophical Anthropology and Ecophilosophy," Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2010, 60-82.

"From Ecological Politics to Intrinsic Value: An Examination of Kovel's Value Theory,"Capitalism Nature Socialism, Vol. 21, 3: 81-101.

"Derrida's Responsibility," in Journal for the British Society of Phenomenology (JBSP), Vol. 28, No. 3, Oct. 1997, 287-303.


Review of The Orders of Nature, by Lawrence Cahoone (Albany: SUNY Press, 2013) in Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, August 2013.

Review of Ecological Ethics: An Introduction by Patrick Curry (Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2011. Second Edition) in International Society For Environmental Ethics Newsletter, Vol. 23, No. 3 Winter 2012 [ISSN 2224-8250],16-17.

Review of Environmental Values by John O'Neill, Alan Holland, and Andrew Light (New York: Routledge, 2008) in Environmental Philosophy, Vol 6, Fall 2009.

Review of The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? by Joel Kovel (London and New York: Zed Books, 2007) in Environmental Philosophy, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 2008.

Review of Naturphilosophie by Hans-Dieter Mutschler (Reihe "Grundkurs Philosophie" Band 12. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer-Verlag, 2002) in Environmental Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, April 2005.

View publications >

Selected Presentations

“Values in Science as Social Knowledge: The Case of Reflexive Ecology” Kemp Symposium April 18, 2014, Bowdoin College, Lewiston, Maine

“What’s Blocking Environmental Culture?” International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP) November 2013, Eugene, Oregon

“What’s Blocking Environmental Culture?” International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) June 2013, East Anglia, United Kingdom

“Hartmann and Supervenience” American Philosophical Association, Nicolai Hartmann Society February 2013, New Orleans, Louisiana

“Scenes of Disagreement: Nicolai Hartmann between Phenomenological Ontology and Speculative Realism”Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP) November 3, 2012, Rochester, New York

“Eco-Terrorism” Roundtable on Varieties of Terrorism March 8, 2012, Colby College, Waterville, Maine

"Bringing Values Down to Earth: Max Scheler and Environmental Philosophy" American Philosophical Association, Max Scheler Society of North America February 2012, Chicago, Illinois

"Ecosystem Services, Nonhuman Agencies, and Diffuse Dependence" International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) (read by a colleague) June 2011, Nijmegen, Netherlands

"Framework, Prioritization, and Value Ethics: Two Dimensions of Value Discourse in Environmental Ethics and the Question of Agency," American Philosophical Association, ISEE Group Meeting, December 2010, Boston, Massachusetts

"Value Ethics, Sustainability, and Needs" International Association for Environmental Philosophy, November 2010, Montreal, Quebec

"No One Owns the Earth: Kovel on Value, Usufruct, and Sustainability"Political Ecology and Environmental Philosophy: Toward Ecological and Social Sustainability April 10, 2010, Colby College, Waterville, Maine

"Comments on John Clark's 'Deep Ecology and Social Ecology in Dialogue'" Society for Ecofeminism, Environmental Justice, and Social Ecology (at IAEP) November 2 2009, Arlington, Virginia

"Marjorie Grene's Progressive Naturalism" Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (SPHS) October 28 2009, Arlington, Virginia

"'Humanity is Nature become Self-conscious': Depersonalization and Agency in Environmental Philosophy" Maine Philosophical Institute April 26, 2009, Farmington, Maine

"Ecosystem Services, Nonhuman Agencies, and Unnatural Naturalism" Ecofeminism in a Transnational World, 21st Annual Women's Studies Conference March 21 2009, Storrs, Connecticut

"Between Reality and its Denial: Marjorie Grene's Neo-Existentialist Philosophical Anthropology" Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (SPHS) October 2008, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"Comments on Robert Figueroa and Wendy Lynn Lee's Presentations in panel 'Anthropocentrism and Environmental Justice'" International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP) June 21, 2008, Eugene, Oregon

"'Humanity is Nature become Self-conscious': Variations on a Theme in the Philosophy of Nature" International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP) November 11, 2007, Chicago, Illinois

"Existential Analysis or Categorial Analysis? Heidegger, Hartmann, and Critical Ontology" Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP) November 8, 2007, Chicago, Illinois

"Sandra Harding on Gender and Science" Saint Michael's College, Invited Speaker, Gender Issues in Society (GS 203) February 22, 2007 and March 4, 2008, Colchester, Vermont

"Conceptual Issues in the Philosophy of Nature: Some Remarks on Bookchin's Dialectical Naturalism" International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP) October 15, 2006, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"Information is not Value: A Critique of a Recent Theory of Intrinsic Value in Nature" International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP) October 22, 2005, Salt lake City, Utah

"The Double Status of Autonomy as Value and as Principle: Rorty's Literary Culture as A Case Study in Value Inquiry" 32nd Value Inquiry Conference April 8-10, 2005, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

"The Legacy of Critique" Interdisciplinary Seminar, Bosphorus University July 22, 2002, Istanbul, Turkey

PEEP Conference 2010 Audio

Professor Peterson was a Goldfarb Center Fellow for 2009-2010, and organized a successful environmental philosophy conference at Colby in April of 2010,"Political Ecology and Environmental Philosophy: Toward Ecological and Social Sustainability." Speakers included Holmes Rolston, III (Emeritus University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University), Karen Warren (Emeritus Professor, Macalester College), Bryan G. Norton (Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy Distinguished Professor), Joel Kovel (Formerly of Bard College and editor of the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism) and John E. Carroll (University of New Hampshire Professor of Natural Resources), as well as panelists from Ireland and Italy. Below you will find links to download mp3 audio files of each of the sessions held at the conference, including introductions and discussions. To listen without downloading click here. To see the full conference program click here. I would like to thank Alex Smith at Radio Ecoshock ( for the smaller, lo-fi versions for a few of the sessions linked here. Holmes Rolston, III, Keynote Address April 9, 2010 Bryan Norton and Scott Lehman, April 10, 2010 John E. Carroll, April 10, 2010 Roundtable Discussion, April 10, 2010 Joel Kovel, Keith Peterson, and Eddie Yuen, April 10, 2010, Part I and Part II Andrea Borghini, Kingsley Goodwin, and Toby Svoboda, April 10, 2010 Karen Warren Keynote Address, April 10, 2010


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