Faculty Profile

Philip Hillmer

Electrical and Computer Engineering
Philip Hillmer
Philip Hillmer
  • Instructional Staff
461 Grainger Engineering Library
1301 W. Springfield
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 333-2505

Administrative Titles

  • Research Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy


  • Instructional Staff


  • Ph.D., 1996, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.  Research Focus: "The Inner Structure of Kantian Epistemology."  Thematic Abstract: An analysis of the epistemological core and essential argument structure of the Critique of Pure Reason — the cornerstone, foundation, and first major work of Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy — which delimits objective and determinate knowledge to the phenomenal sphere of sense perception.  Review: See the manuscript review of this work by Arthur Melnick, Emeritus Professor and established Kant scholar in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.*

Academic Positions

  • The University teaching responsibilities assigned to me are part of a dual faculty appointment as a research professor in the Department of Philosophy and a lecturer in philosophical and applied ethics in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.￿ The primary course for which I have been give instructional oversight is entitled Ethics and Engineering ￿ cross-listed as ECE/Philosophy 316.￿ The title itself reflects the substance of the course as an upperdivision class in philosophy, wrestling with the fundamental questions of Ethics, the principles and significance of which are then worked out in the practice of a profession as applied in the context of the discipline of Engineering.￿ For a thematic overview of the entire course, see the course home page.￿
  • The work in which I am involved here at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign has taken shape in the context of a research trajectory in which I am exploring the intellectual foundations of modern thought from Kant to Nietzsche and into the labyrinth of postmodern discourse, with the goal of constructing a viable model of epistemological realism through which we are able to engage anew in our age the fundamental questions of normative ethics.  This work is integrally related to the essential task of a university, for one of the central objectives of a university education is to equip citizens with a clear moral compass, with a corresponding worldview encompassing every area of life, and with the critical tools needed to provide the leadership required to preserve and to sustain a morally coherent society — and one of the primary purposes of the discipline of philosophy, at its heart, is to facilitate this task that has been entrusted to the universities of our land.  See the related diagrams entitled The Universe of the University and The Discipline of Philosophy — “What is true?” (Epistemology), “What is real?” (Metaphysics), and “How do we live in light of what we consider to be the truth of reality?” (Ethics).

Research Interests

  • Philosophical and Applied Ethics


  • ￿The Antinomy Structure of Kant￿s Transcendental Dialectic.￿ Accepted for publication, but the revision and projected submission of this work is now part of a larger research project.

Invited Lectures

  • “The Historical Roots of Postmodernism.”  An address given as part of a professional conference at the Chicago Hilton.  Thesis: The core of “postmodernism” can be viewed as the third stage in a post-Kantian movement of thought that forms a connected narrative flowing from the critical work of Kant through Hegel and Nietzsche into the current intellectual climate.

Other Publications

  • The research — and the writing — that are deeply on my heart have been significantly delayed due to a protracted and ongoing battle with the effects of a previously undiagnosed case of chronic Lyme disease.  See the accompanying letter for a brief summary of this battle.

Other Outside Service

  • Guest lecturer in ethics for two of the training and accreditation workshops that were part of the 2007 Illinois Society of Professional Engineers professional development conference in Springfield, Illinois.  See the accompanying letter from the Executive Director.

Teaching Honors

  • See the course evaluations written in preceding semesters by members enrolled in the classes to which I have been appointed at the University of Illinois. The evaluative surveys administered in class at the end of each semester — through the University Instructor and Course Evaluation System (ICES) — have corroborated these written comments.