The roots of the Department of Philosophy at Bilkent University can be found in the two ‘great books’ courses that emerged in the Departments of Political Science and International Relations in 1999. Many of the people who taught the great books course during those early years went on to join the department when it first started in 2003. The Department of Philosophy still offers these courses, which provide an introduction to key problems in social and political philosophy by way of a close study of classical texts in the history of social and political thought, to students in Political Science, International Relations and Law.
The university was fortunate to welcome a number of renowned philosophers – Berent Enç, Donald Davidson, İlham Dilman, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Brian McGuinness, Roger Scruton and Bernard Williams – during those early years. Their advice played an important role in determining the shape and approach of the philosophy department at Bilkent. Since that time we have we have continued to welcome leading philosophers from around the world as visiting speakers, including Timothy Williamson, Christopher Gauker, G.A. Cohen, Jo Wolff, Sarah Broadie, Keith Lehrer, Julia Driver, Tim Crane, Kimberlee Brownlee, Frederick Schauer, Paul Guyer and David Chalmers. The department chair during the first 13 years was Varol Akman.
The research profile of the department has continued to grow since it first began in 2003. Past and present members of the department have published in leading philosophy journals, including Ethics, Mind, Noûs, Philosophical Quarterly, and Philosophical Studies. In keeping with the interdisciplinary character of the department, members of the department have also published in journals such as Behavioral and Brain Science, Social Science & Medicine and World Politics. In 2016, the Department of Philosophy at Bilkent was identified by Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) as the highest ranked philosophy department in Turkey in terms of publications and citations. Members of the department have also published a number of books with international publishers, including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Routledge.
The department’s philosophical orientation is analytical, broadly understood. Members of the department work and publish in all major areas of contemporary analytical philosophy as well as in the history of philosophy.
2016 marked the 10th anniversary since our first group of students graduated from the department. During that time eleven of our students have entered into graduate programs at places such as Oxford University, London Film School, Indiana University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Washington University in St Louis, University of Kansas, Columbia University, and Brown University.
The Department of Philosophy at Bilkent is now expanding to the graduate level. In Fall of 2016 the department accepted its first group of students into the newly created two-year master’s program in philosophy. The new program aims to produce young scholars of distinction and promote the international reputation of philosophy in Turkey.