The Department of Philosophy

"The smaller we come to feel ourselves compared to the mountain, the nearer we come to participating in its greatness."

~Arne Naess

Geoffrey Adelsberg, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Philosophy

Geoffrey Adelsberg
Predolin Humanities Center 328
(608) 663-4429


Geoff Adelsberg (they, them, theirs/he, him, his) received their Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University in 2016. They are affiliate faculty in Edgewood College’s Ethnic Studies program. Their areas of expertise are the philosophy of race and racism and the philosophy of punishment.

Their current book project is entitled Between the Saved and the Damned: Intergenerational Responsibilities for Colonial Complicities. In this project, they examine the intergenerational collective responsibility of groups that are driven to participate in colonial harms in the aftermath of their own experiences of duress and displacement. They engage with these questions through a case study of Jewish refugees who were displaced by 1492 Spanish and 1497 Portuguese expulsion orders and built new lives in the colonial Americas. 

An article from this project, “Collective Responsibility as Resistance to White Supremacy” is forthcoming in the Journal of Social Philosophy

A related essay, “Collective Forgiveness in the Context of Ongoing Harms: The Problems of Settler Colonial Apology,” was published in Phenomenology and Forgiveness, ed. Marguerite La Caze (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). In this book chapter, they examined a request for forgiveness for the U.S. military’s history of colonial aggression on Lakota territory in the midst of the 2016 #NoDAPL Standing Rock Protests. 

Their secondary research project evaluates the moral, social, legal, and political claims of persons victimized by crime and constructs responses to those claims informed by approaches in transformative and reparative justice. Out of this project, they co-edited a volume of essays with Lisa Guenther and Scott Zeman, Death and Other Penalties: Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration (Fordham University Press, 2015). Their essay “U.S. Racism and Derrida’s Theologico-Political Sovereignty” appeared in that volume.

They teach courses in philosophy of race and racism, philosophy of punishment, critical thinking, and ethics.

They attempt to put their research into action as an organizer with Never Again Action.