Frankena, William K.

Alternative names
Birth 1908-06-21
Death 1994-10-22

Biographical notes:

William K. Frankena was born on June 21, 1908 in Manhattan, Montana. On June 23, 1934 he married Sadie Roelfs and they had two sons, Karl and Mark. William Frankena died on October 22, 1994 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He had been a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan for 41 years.

William Frankena began his higher education at Calvin College where he received an A.B. in 1930. Then Frankena received two M.A.'s, one from the University of Michigan in 1933 and the other from Harvard University in 1935. Frankena finished his dissertation titled "Recent Intuitionism in British Ethics" at Harvard in 1937 and received his Ph.D.

Frankena's teaching career began at the University of Michigan in 1937 where he started as an instructor of philosophy. In 1940 he became an assistant professor and in 1946 he was promoted to associate professor. In 1947, he was made full professor and appointed chairman of the Philosophy Department, a position he held until 1961. In 1978, he retired from the university. During his career, Frankena was a visiting lecturer and professor at Harvard, Columbia, Tokyo, University of Washington, and Princeton.

Frankena was a widely published philosopher. His research extended from the history of ethics to education and social philosophy. His most widely read book was Ethics (1963), which has 27 editions and is published in eight languages. He was the author of many other books such as Thinking about Morality (1980), Three Historical Philosophies of Education (1965), and Perspectives on Morality (1976) as well as the coauthor of many other books. He published journal articles in Mind, Philosophical Review, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Journal of the History of Ideas, The Harvard Educational Review, and Review of Metaphysics .

He was a member of many university and professional committees as well as organizations. Committees with which Frankena was involved included the LSA Executive Committee for three terms, and the Qualifications Committee for Phi Beta Kappa for two terms. Frankena was a member of the American Philosophical Association, Phi Beta Kappa, the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also served on the Board of Trustees at Chatham College for three terms, as the chairman on the Board of Officers for the American Philosophical Association for one term, the president of the Western Division of the American Philosophical Association, the chairman of the Council for Philosophical Studies for three terms, and as a Carus Lecturer for the American Philosophical Association.

From the guide to the William K. Frankena papers, 1927-1991, 1961-1981, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

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