Carl Cohen

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Carl Cohen

Professor, Philosophy

Office Location(s): 1628 East Quad
Phone: 734.615.1484

  • About

    Carl Cohen has been a member of the faculty in philosophy, in the College of LS&A, since 1955. He was one of the planners and founders of the Residential College, and has been a member of its core faculty since it opened in 1967. He has taught a great variety of courses, large and small, as well as seminars, graduate and undergraduate, and has devoted much of his professional life to the support, instruction, and encouragement of students in the Residential College — with many of whom he sustains continuing correspondence.

    In philosophy, Cohen’s interests have focused on issues of practical importance; he has been prominently involved in highly vexed public controversies. He has written and lectured widely on philosophical issues arising from race preference and affirmative action, on the moral status of animals and the uses of animals in biological science, and on the protection of humans, and especially prisoners, serving as voluntary subjects in medical experiments. For a decade he served also as Professor of Philosophy in the University of Michigan Medical School. He has engaged vigorously in controversies over the limitation of free speech, defending the right to express even the most heinous of views, in law reviews and widely read periodicals: The Nation, Commentary, The New York Times, The New England Journal of Medicine, and many others. His books, including the 13th edition of his logic textbook, Introduction to Logic, published in 2008, have been translated into many languages; his major work in political philosophy, Democracy, is widely distributed in China, and around the world. Cohen is also an active labor/management grievance arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, and for the State of Michigan.

    Recent Courses

    Logic and Language
    First year Seminar in Philosophy

    Selected Articles

    For links to these, and scores of other essays, please go to

    "Civil Disobedience" -- to be published in the new Springer Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics.
    ?Color and Money"; Academic Questions, 2008
    "A Debate in Black and White"; Discourse, 2007
    "Affirmative Action and Diversity", Commentary, 2004
    "Do Animals Have Rights?"; Ethics and Behavior, 1997
    "How Not to Argue About Abortion"; Michigan Quarterly Review, 1990
    "The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research"; New England Journal of Medicine, 1986
    "Justice Debased"; Commentary, 1979    
    "Medical Experimentation on Prisoners"; Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1978
    "The Extreme Test of Free Speech"; The Nation, 1978

    Books Published

    A Conflict of Principles: The Battle over Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan, University Press of Kansas, 2014

    Introduction to Logic, 13th edition; Prentice Hall, 2008
    Affirmative Action and Racial Preference; Oxford University Press, 2003
    The Animal Rights Debate; Rowman and Littlefield, 2001
    Communism, Fascism, and Democracy, 3rd edition, Random House, 1997
    Four Systems; Random House, 1982
    Naked Racial Preference; Madison Books/Rowman and Littlefield, 1995
    Democracy; The Free Press/Macmillan, 1973