Frankena, William K.

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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)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Paul Ramsey Papers, 1934-1984 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf William K. Frankena papers, 1927-1991, 1961-1981 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Tom Regan Papers, 1951-2001 North Carolina State University. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn William Ernest Hocking papers Houghton Library
referencedIn University of Michigan. News and Information Services. Faculty and Staff Files, 1944-2005 (bulk 1960-1995) Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Department of Philosophy (University of Michigan) records, 1907-1987, 1907-1987, 1947-1961 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn News and Information Services (University of Michigan) photograph series D (faculty and staff portraits), 1946-2006, 1950-1990 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Books from the personal library of John Rawls, 1915-2002. Harvard University Archives.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
correspondedWith Ramsey, Paul person
associatedWith Rawls, John, 1921-2002 person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Department of Philosophy. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Philosophy. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. News and Information Services. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Ethical problems


Birth 1908-06-21

Death 1994-10-22



Ark ID: w6jz26mr

SNAC ID: 23645228