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Rachana Kamtekar


Rachana Kamtekar

Educational Background

University of Chicago.  PhD in Philosophy, 1995 (M.A. 1989)                                                    

Stanford University.  B.A., with honors and distinction, in Philosophy and Religious Studies, 1987


I study ancient philosophy--primarily ethics, politics, and moral psychology--and have mostly written about Plato on these topics, but I also have substantial interests in Stoicism, especially Epictetus, and in contemporary moral psychology.

My monograph, Plato's Moral Psychology: Intellectualism, the Divided Soul, and Desire for Good (OUP 2017), challenges a mainstream narrative according to which Socrates believes that we always do what we believe to be best, but Plato introduces good-independent motivations in order to accommodate phenomena like akratic action. I argue instead that Socrates AND Plato claim that we have a natural desire for good, that motivations conflicting with this desire are unwilling, and that Socrates "de-attributes" such conflicting motivations but Plato assigns them to non-rational parts of the soul, so that they still belong to the agent.  These non-rational parts also aim at the good--in keeping with Plato's teleological psychology--but under a limited conception.

My next project, 'Human Agency and Cause from Aristotle to Alexander' is to recover anti-determinist arguments in antiquity.

You can find penultimate drafts to my published papers on






  • Classics
  • Philosophy

Graduate Fields

  • Classics




2017. Plato’s Moral Psychology:  Intellectualism, the Divided Soul, and the Desire for Good(Oxford)


            Articles and book chapters

Forthcoming. ‘Law in Plato’s Political Thought’, with Rachel Singpurwalla, in Ebrey and Kraut eds., The Cambridge Companion to Plato, 2nded.

Forthcoming. ‘Agent-Regret and Accidental Agency’, with Shaun Nichols, in Midwest Studies in Philosophyvol. 43, ed. A. Khoury.

Forthcoming.  ‘Plato and the Pleonectic Conception of Human Nature’ in Being Human, ed. Karolina Hubner, Oxford.

Forthcoming. ‘Platonic Pity or Why Compassion is not a Platonic Virtue’ in Plato on Emotioneds. Olivier Renaut and Laura Candiotto. Brill Plato Series.

Forthcoming 2019. ‘Explaining Evil in Plato, Euripides and Seneca’ in Evil:  A History, ed. Andrew Chignell, Oxford.

2019. ‘Aristotle contraPlato on the Volutariness of Vice’ in Phronesis64, pp. 57-83.

2017. ‘Plato’s Ethical Psychology’ in The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Ethics(ed. Chris Bobonich), pp. 72-85.

2016. ‘The Soul’s (After-)life’ in Ancient Philosophyvol. 36, pp. 115-32.

2016. ‘Studying Ancient Political Thought through Ancient Philosophers:  The Case of Aristotle and Natural Slavery,’ special issue of Polis, Journal forAncient Greek Political Theoryvol. 33, pp. 150-71, ed. Ryan Balot

2016. ‘Self-Knowledge in Plato’ in Self-Knowledge:  A History, ed. Ursula Renz (Oxford Philosophical Concepts series, ed. Christia Mercer), pp. 25-43.

2016. ‘Becoming Good:  Narrow Dispositions and the Stability of Virtue’ in Developing the Virtues, special issue of Journal of Moral Educationeds. Julia Annas, Darcia Narvaez, and Nancy Snow (Polish translation in Natasha and Artur Szutta (eds.) volume on virtue ethics, 2015) 

2014. ‘The Relationship Between Aristotle’s Ethical and Political Discourses (NEx.9)’ in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethicsed. Ronald Polansky, pp. 370-82.

2014. ‘Plato:  Philosopher-Rulers’ in The Routledge Companion Ancient Philosophy, eds. James Warren and Frisbee Sheffield, Routledge, pp. 199-212.

2013. ‘Ancient Virtue Ethics’ in TheCambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics(ed. Dan Russell), pp. 29-48

2012. ‘Aristotle’s Social and Political Philosophy’ in Routledge Companion to Political and Social Philosophy, eds. Gerard Gaus and Fred D’Agostino, pp. 14-24

2012. ‘Updating Practical Wisdom’ in Self-knowledge and Agency(ed. Manidipa Sen), DK Printworld, pp. 256-77

2010. ‘Psychology and the Inculcation of Virtue in Plato’s Laws’, Cambridge Critical Guide to Plato’s Laws, ed. Chris Bobonich, pp. 127-48

2010. ‘Ethics and Politics in Socrates’ Defense of Justice’, Cambridge Critical Guide to Plato’s Republic, ed. Mark McPherran, pp. 65-82

2009. ‘Knowledge by Likeness in Empedocles,’ in Phronesisvol. 54 no. 3, pp. 215-38

2008. ‘The Powers of Plato’s Tripartite Psychology’ in Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 24, pp. 127-50

 2008. ‘Plato on Education and Art’, in Gail Fine (ed.) The Oxford Handbook to Plato(Oxford), pp. 336-59, revised for second edition 2017.

 2006. ‘Speaking with the Same Voice as Reason: Personification in Plato’s Psychology’, in 

            Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 31, pp. 167-202, abridged version reprinted in Barney, Brennan and Brittain (eds.) Plato and the Divided Self(Cambridge, 2012).

2006. ‘Plato on the Attribution of Conative Attitudes’ in Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, Band 88, pp. 127-62

2006. ‘The Politics of Plato’s Socrates’, in A Companion to Socrates (eds. Ahbel-Rappe and Kamtekar, Blackwell Companions to Philosophyseries, Blackwell) pp. 214-27, reprinted in Ryan Balot (ed.) A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought(Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 339-52

2005. ‘The Profession of Friendship: Callicles, Democratic Politics, and Rhetorical Education in Plato’s Gorgias’Ancient Philosophy, pp. 319-39

2004. ‘Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character,’ Ethics, vol. 114, no. 3, pp. 458-91, abridged version reprinted in Nadelhoffer, Nahmias and Nichols (eds.), Moral Psychology:  Historical and Contemporary Readings, Blackwell 2010

2004. ‘What’s the Good of Agreeing?:  Homonoiain Platonic Politics,’ Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophyvol. 24 pp. 131-70

2002. ‘Distinction Without a Difference?  Plato on 'Genos' vs. 'Race',’ in Julie Ward and Tommy Lott (eds.) Philosophers on Race:  Critical Essays (Blackwell), pp. 1-13

2001. ‘Social Justice and Happiness in the Republic:  Plato’s Two Principles,’ History of Political Thought vol. 22, pp. 189-220

1998. ‘Imperfect Virtue,’ Ancient Philosophy18,pp. 315-39.

1998. ‘Aidôsin Epictetus,’ Classical Philology93, pp. 136-60


             Encyclopedia entries,reviews and comments

Forthcoming. Review of Annas, Virtue and Law in Plato and Beyond.  Mind.

2017. ‘Marcus Aurelius’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(online, revised from 2010)  

2016. Review of Scott, Levels of Argument:  A Comparative Study of Plato’sRepublicand Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.  Ancient Philosophy.

2015. Comments on Nancy Snow, ‘Generativity and Flourishing’ in Journal of Moral Education44, pp. 278-83.

2014. Review of Cooper, Pursuits of Wisdom:  Six Ways of Life from Socrates to Plotinusin Notre Dame Philosophical Review(online; 2/20/14)

2012. ‘Socrates and the Psychology of Virtue’ (review of Brickhouse and Smith, Socratic Moral Psychologyand Iakovos Vasiliou, Aiming at Virtue in Plato), Classical Philology 107.3 pp. 256-70

2012. ‘Happiness (eudaimonia)’ in Gerard A. Press (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Plato, pp. 179-80

2011. Opening discussion for PEA Soup featured Ethicsarticle, Slingerland’s ‘The situationist critique and early Confucian ethics’

2010. ‘Comments on Robert Adams, A Theory of Virtue:  Excellence in Being forthe Good’, Philosophical Studiesvol. 148, pp. 147-58

2009. Review of Schofield, Plato:  Political Philosophy, in Review of Metaphysics vol. 62, pp. 429-31

2009. Review of Lorenz, The Brute Within:  Appetitive Desire in Plato and Aristotle, in Philosophical Review  vol. 118, pp. 103-7

2008. Review of Heinaman (ed.), Plato and Aristotle’s Ethicsin Classical Reviewvol. 58 no. 1, pp. 70-71

2007. Review of Warren, Facing Death:  Epicurus and his Criticsin Philosophical Reviewvol. 116, no. 4, pp. 650-53

2007. ‘The Good and Order:  Does the RepublicDisplay an Analogy between a Science of Ethics and Mathematics?’ Reply to Christopher Gill, ‘The Good and Mathematics’, in Cairns, Hermann and Penner (eds.) Pursuing the Good(Edinburgh), pp.275-78

2006. Review of Gill (ed.), Virtue, Norms and Objectivity , Polisvol. 23 no. 2 , pp. 418-26.

2005. ‘Good Feelings and Motivation: Comment on John Cooper, ‘The Emotional Life of the Wise’’ Southern Journal of PhilosophySupplementary volume XLIII, pp. 219-29

2005. ‘Character’, New Dictionary of the History of Ideas(Charles Scribner), pp. 295-99

2004. ‘Why life-saving drugs should be public goods’, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics,Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 77-78

2004. Review of Sedley, Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom, Ancient Philosophyvol. 24 no. 1, pp. 228-32

2002. Review of Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, and Sex and Social Justice, Philosophical Review, pp. 262-70

2002. Review of Koziak, Retrieving Political Emotion, Dialogue:  Canadian Philosophical Review 40,pp. 826-29

1999. Review of Annas, Platonic Ethics Old and New, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

1998. Review of Hadot, The Inner Citadel,Bryn Mawr Classical Review

1997. ‘Philosophical Rule from the Republicto the Laws:  Commentary on Schofield’Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 13, pp. 242-52


            Edited volumes

2012. Virtue and Happiness:  Essays in Honour of Julia Annas(Oxford Studies in Ancient PhilosophySpecial Supplement)

2006. A Companion to Socrates (co-editor, with Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Blackwell Companions to Philosophyseries, Blackwell)

2004. Critical Essays on Plato’s Euthyphro,Crito, and Apology(Rowman and Littlefield)