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Stephen Puryear

Associate Professor of Philosophy


Associate Head of Department

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Withers Hall 340B


A native of Wadesboro, NC, I earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering at NC State in 1994. After a circuitous route I earned my Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, and returned to NC State as a member of the faculty in 2008.

At NC State I serve as the faculty advisor for three student clubs: The Philosophy Club at NC StateStudent Voices for Animals, and Democracy Matters!. (To join: click the link, sign in, and click ‘Join’.)

I have served as president (2019-2023) and secretary-treasurer (2017-2019) of the North Carolina Philosophical Society and as secretary-treasurer of the Leibniz Society of North America (2012-2016). I currently serve on the executive committee of the LSNA.

I have won two teaching awards during my time at NC State: the Outstanding Lecturer Award from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2012 and the university-level Outstanding Teacher Award in 2020. With the latter I was also inducted into the NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers.

Professional Activities and Research

I work primarily in the areas of metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy, often through engagement with the German philosophical tradition (especially Leibniz, Kant, and Schopenhauer).

My main project at present is a book on Leibniz’s idealism. Besides that, I continue to work on various topics:

  • Schopenhauer’s philosophy, especially his ethics.
  • Moral and political philosophy: the nature of obligation, consent, and rights; normative theories; animal ethics.
  • Metaphysics: infinity, continuity, space, time, idealism, conceptualism, and monism.

Research Publications

For the full list of my published writings, and links to online versions, please see my PhilPapers profile.

Selected Articles and Chapters


Ph.D. Philosophy University of Pittsburgh 2006

M.A. Philosophy University of Pittsburgh 2004

M.A. Philosophy Texas A&M University 2000

B.S. Mechanical Engineering North Carolina State University 1994

Area(s) of Expertise

History of Modern Philosophy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Political Philosophy