Saint Louis University

Ruth Groff

Office: McGannon Hall, Room 148
Phone: 314.977.4240


Office Hours:  Spring 2017 -- By Appointment

Dr. Ruth Groff, Associate Professor of Political Science, specializes in the philosophical underpinnings of Western social and political thought. She joined the SLU faculty in 2008.

Education and background. Dr. Groff received her B.A. from Swarthmore College. Her M.A. is from the University of Toronto, and her Ph.D. is from York University (Canada).

Teaching. Dr. Groff offers courses in the history of Western social, political, and moral thought; courses in contemporary Marxist and neo-Aristotelian theory; and courses on structural power. She admits to an abiding love of Plato, whose work she teaches with a special passion. Dr. Groff convenes a reading group, open to faculty and students.

Research. Dr. Groff writes about how select topics in analytic metaphysics (causation, kinds, essences & emergence, which topics she also sometimes weighs in on directly) are related to: (a) the history of social & political thought; (b) critical philosophy of social science; (c) the philosophy of agency (esp. the problem of free will); (d) social ontology.

She is the author of two books, Ontology Revisited: Metaphysics in Social and Political Philosophy (Routledge, 2012) and Critical Realism, Post-Positivism and the Possibility of Knowledge (Routledge, 2004). Her third book, A Critical Introduction to Causal Powers and Dispositions, is under contract with Bloomsbury.

She is also the editor of two collections of papers, Revitalizing Causality (Routledge, 2008) and an annotated anthology entitled Subject & Object: Frankfurt School Writings on Epistemology, Ontology and Method (Bloomsbury, 2014); and the co-editor (with John Greco) of Powers and Capacities in Philosophy: The New Aristotelianism (2012). Her recently published or forthcoming journal articles/book chapters have had to do with causal powers and trope theory (A. S. Meincke, ed., Dispositionalism); causal powers and the free will debate (Synthese); the concept of a "causal mechanism" in the philosophy of social science (Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior); and what she calls "thin Aristotelian Marxism" (M. Thompson, ed., Constructing Marxist Ethics).

Dr. Groff is the Coordinator of the Critical Social Ontology Workshop. She is also a core member of the Critical Realism Network, based at Yale University. She is a former reviews editor for the journal New Political Science, and is a current member of the Centre for Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics and Dynamis: The Finnish Network for Metaphysics.

Dr. Groff maintains a blog called "Powers, Capacities and Dispositions."

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Undergraduate Courses:
Foundations of Political Theory syllabus
Ancient Political Theory/Modern Political Theory syllabus
Renaissance and Modern Political Theory syllabus
Kant and Contemporary Political Theory syllabus
The Idea of Democracy syllabus
Capitalism, Racism, and Patriarchy syllabus
Introduction to Critical Theory & the Frankfurt School
Marx's Capital syllabus


Graduate Courses:
Reason, Virtue and Politics
Introduction to Critical Theory & the Frankfurt School
Marx's Capital syllabus
History of Political Thought syllabus

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