Rachana Kamtekar



I study ancient philosophy--primarily ethics, politics, and moral psychology--and have mostly written about Plato on these topics, but I also have substantial interests in Aristotle and Stoicism, and in contemporary moral psychology.

My monograph, Plato's Moral Psychology: Intellectualism, the Divided Soul, and Desire for Good (OUP 2017), challenges a mainstream narrative according to which Socrates believes that we always do what we believe to be best, but Plato introduces good-independent motivations in order to accommodate phenomena like akratic action. I argue instead that Socrates AND Plato claim that we have a natural desire for good, that motivations conflicting with this desire are unwilling, and that Socrates "de-attributes" such conflicting motivations but Plato assigns them to non-rational parts of the soul, so that they still belong to the agent.  These non-rational parts also aim at the good--in keeping with Plato's teleological psychology--but under a limited conception.

My next project, 'Human Agency and Cause from Aristotle to Alexander' is to recover anti-determinist arguments in antiquity.

You can find penultimate drafts to my published papers on Academia.edu

As of July 1, 2022, I am editor of Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy.


Contributors should submit their articles to osap@cornell.edu.






2017. Plato’s Moral Psychology:  Intellectualism, the Divided Soul, and the Desire for Good (Oxford)

            Articles and book chapters

Forthcoming. 'Plato's Scientific Feminism', with John Proios, in Routledge Companion to Women and Gender in Antiquity, eds. Brill and McKeen.

Forthcoming. 'Debunking Virtue', with Shaun Nichols, in Oxford Handbook of Normative Ethics, eds. Copp, Rosati and Rulli.

Forthcoming.'Relativization and Explanation: Two Platonic Responses to Compresent Opposites' in Keyt and Shields (eds.) volume in Honor of Fred Miller (Jr.) (Springer)

Forthcoming ‘Stoic Emotion’ for Klein and Powers (eds.), Oxford Handbook to Hellenistic Philosophy

Forthcoming 2024. 'Causal Pluralism in Plato and Vasubandhu' in A. Carpenter and P. Harter (eds.) Crossing the Stream, Leaving the Cave: Buddhist-Platonist Philosophical Inquiries.

Forthcoming 2023. 'What is Compatible with What? Moral Responsibility Within Stoic Determinism' in M. Kiener (ed.) Routledge Handbook to Moral Responsibility.

2022. 'Plato on Intelligent Agency' in F. Buddensiek and S. Odzuck (eds.) Praxis-Handeln und Handelnde in Antiker Philosophie. Alten des 6 Kongresses der Gesellschaft fur Antike Philosophie 2019 (de Gruyter), pp. 33-56.

2022. 'Two Concepts of Cause in Antiphon's Second Tetralogy', with Shaun Nichols, in Phronesis vol. 67 pp. 383-407 doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685284-bja10063

2022. ‘Law in Plato’s Political Thought’, with Rachel Singpurwalla, in Ebrey and Kraut eds., The Cambridge Companion to Plato, 2nd ed.

2022.  ‘Plato and the Pleonectic Conception of Human Nature’ in Being Human, ed. Karolina Hubner, Oxford.

2022. “Motivation, desire for good, and design in Plato’s moral psychology” in Doris and Vargas eds. Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology.

2021.  ‘Experience and Preconception in Epicurus’ Refutation of Determinism’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy vol. 60.

2021. ‘Weaving together Natural Courage and Moderation:  305e5-308b9’ in Dimas, Lane, Meyer (eds.), Plato’s Statesman (Oxford), pp. 218-237.

2021. Précis and Response to Critics for book symposium on Plato’s Moral Psychology, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 103.

2021. ‘“False positive” emotions, responsibility, and moral character’, with Raj Anderson, Shaun Nichols and David Pizarro.  Cognition 214.

2020. ‘Agent-Regret and Accidental Agency’, with Shaun Nichols, in Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 43, ed. A. Khoury.

2020. 'Platonic Pity or Why Compassion is not a Platonic Virtue’ in Plato on Emotion (eds). Olivier Renaut and Laura Candiotto. (Brill Plato Series), pp. 308-19.

2019.  ‘Plato on Education and Art’, in Fine ed. The Oxford Handbook to Plato (Oxford), pp. 336-59 (revised from 2008 edition).

2019. ‘Explaining Evil in Plato, Euripides and Seneca’ in Evil:  A History, ed. Andrew Chignell, Oxford.

2019. ‘Aristotle contra Plato on the Voluntariness of Vice’ in Phronesis 64, pp. 57-83.

2017. ‘Plato’s Ethical Psychology’ in The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Ethics (ed. Chris Bobonich), pp. 72-85.

2016. ‘The Soul’s (After-)life’ in Ancient Philosophy vol. 36, pp. 115-32.

2016. ‘Studying Ancient Political Thought through Ancient Philosophers:  The Case of Aristotle and Natural Slavery,’ special issue of Polis, Journal for Ancient Greek Political Theory, vol. 33, pp. 150-71, ed. Ryan Balot

2016. ‘Self-Knowledge in Plato’ in Self-Knowledge:  A History, ed. Ursula Renz (Oxford Philosophical Concepts series, ed. Christia Mercer), pp. 25-43.

2016. ‘Becoming Good:  Narrow Dispositions and the Stability of Virtue’ in Developing the Virtues, special issue of Journal of Moral Education, eds. Julia Annas, Darcia Narvaez, and Nancy Snow (Polish translation in Natasha and Artur Szutta (eds.) volume on virtue ethics, 2015) 

2014. ‘The Relationship Between Aristotle’s Ethical and Political Discourses (NEx.9)’ in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, ed. Ronald Polansky, pp. 370-82.

2014. ‘Plato:  Philosopher-Rulers’ in The Routledge Companion Ancient Philosophy, eds. James Warren and Frisbee Sheffield, Routledge, pp. 199-212.

2013. ‘Ancient Virtue Ethics’ in The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics (ed. Dan Russell), pp. 29-48

2012. ‘Aristotle’s Social and Political Philosophy’ in Routledge Companion to Political and Social Philosophy, eds. Gerard Gaus and Fred D’Agostino, pp. 14-24

2012. ‘Updating Practical Wisdom’ in Self-knowledge and Agency (ed. Manidipa Sen), DK Printworld, pp. 256-77

2010. ‘Psychology and the Inculcation of Virtue in Plato’s Laws’, Cambridge Critical Guide to Plato’s Laws, ed. Chris Bobonich, pp. 127-48

2010. ‘Ethics and Politics in Socrates’ Defense of Justice’, Cambridge Critical Guide to Plato’s Republic, ed. Mark McPherran, pp. 65-82

2009. ‘Knowledge by Likeness in Empedocles,’ in Phronesis, vol. 54 no. 3, pp. 215-38

2008. ‘The Powers of Plato’s Tripartite Psychology’ in Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 24, pp. 127-50

 2006. ‘Speaking with the Same Voice as Reason: Personification in Plato’s Psychology’, in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 31, pp. 167-202, abridged version reprinted in Barney, Brennan and Brittain (eds.) Plato and the Divided Self (Cambridge, 2012).

2006. ‘Plato on the Attribution of Conative Attitudes’ in Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, Band 88, pp. 127-62

2006. ‘The Politics of Plato’s Socrates’, in A Companion to Socrates (eds. Ahbel-Rappe and Kamtekar, Blackwell Companions to Philosophy series, Blackwell) pp. 214-27, reprinted in Ryan Balot (ed.) A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 339-52

2005. ‘The Profession of Friendship: Callicles, Democratic Politics, and Rhetorical Education in Plato’s Gorgias’ in Ancient Philosophy, pp. 319-39

2004. ‘Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character,’ Ethics, vol. 114, no. 3, pp. 458-91, abridged version reprinted in Nadelhoffer, Nahmias and Nichols (eds.), Moral Psychology:  Historical and Contemporary Readings, Blackwell 2010

2004. ‘What’s the Good of Agreeing?:  Homonoia in Platonic Politics,’ in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 24 pp. 131-70

2002. ‘Distinction Without a Difference?  Plato on 'Genos' vs. 'Race',’ in Julie Ward and Tommy Lott (eds.) Philosophers on Race:  Critical Essays (Blackwell), pp. 1-13

2001. ‘Social Justice and Happiness in the Republic:  Plato’s Two Principles,’ in History of Political Thought vol. 22, pp. 189-220

1998. ‘Imperfect Virtue,’ in Ancient Philosophy 18,pp. 315-39.

1998. ‘Aidôs in Epictetus,’ in Classical Philology 93, pp. 136-60


             Encyclopedia entries, reviews and comments

2019. 'Presuppositions of a Skeptic' in Comparative Philosophy vol. 10 pp. 100-110.

2018. Review of Annas, Virtue and Law in Plato and Beyond.  Mind.

2017. ‘Marcus Aurelius’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online, revised from 2010)  

2016. Review of Scott, Levels of Argument:  A Comparative Study of Plato’sRepublicand Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.  Ancient Philosophy.

2015. Comments on Nancy Snow, ‘Generativity and Flourishing’ in Journal of Moral Education 44, pp. 278-83.

2014. Review of Cooper, Pursuits of Wisdom:  Six Ways of Life from Socrates to Plotinus in Notre Dame Philosophical Review (online; 2/20/14)

2012. ‘Socrates and the Psychology of Virtue’ (review of Brickhouse and Smith, Socratic Moral Psychology and Iakovos Vasiliou, Aiming at Virtue in Plato), Classical Philology 107.3 pp. 256-70

2012. ‘Happiness (eudaimonia)’ in Gerard A. Press (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Plato, pp. 179-80

2011. Opening discussion for PEA Soup featured Ethics article, Slingerland’s ‘The situationist critique and early Confucian ethics’

2010. ‘Comments on Robert Adams, A Theory of Virtue:  Excellence in Being for the Good’, Philosophical Studies vol. 148, pp. 147-58

2009. Review of Schofield, Plato:  Political Philosophy, in Review of Metaphysics vol. 62, pp. 429-31

2009. Review of Lorenz, The Brute Within:  Appetitive Desire in Plato and Aristotle, in Philosophical Review  vol. 118, pp. 103-7

2008. Review of Heinaman (ed.), Plato and Aristotle’s Ethics in Classical Review vol. 58 no. 1, pp. 70-71

2007. Review of Warren, Facing Death:  Epicurus and his Critics in Philosophical Review vol. 116, no. 4, pp. 650-53

2007. ‘The Good and Order:  Does the Republic Display an Analogy between a Science of Ethics and Mathematics?’ Reply to Christopher Gill, ‘The Good and Mathematics’, in Cairns, Hermann and Penner (eds.) Pursuing the Good (Edinburgh), pp.275-78

2006. Review of Gill (ed.), Virtue, Norms and ObjectivityPolis vol. 23 no. 2 , pp. 418-26.

2005. ‘Good Feelings and Motivation: Comment on John Cooper, ‘The Emotional Life of the Wise’’ Southern Journal of Philosophy Supplementary volume XLIII, pp. 219-29

2005. ‘Character’, New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (Charles Scribner), pp. 295-99

2004. ‘Why life-saving drugs should be public goods’, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 77-78

2004. Review of Sedley, Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek WisdomAncient Philosophy vol. 24 no. 1, pp. 228-32

2002. Review of Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, and Sex and Social JusticePhilosophical Review, pp. 262-70

2002. Review of Koziak, Retrieving Political EmotionDialogue:  Canadian Philosophical Review 40,pp. 826-29

1999. Review of Annas, Platonic Ethics Old and NewBryn Mawr Classical Review

1998. Review of Hadot, The Inner Citadel, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

1997. ‘Philosophical Rule from the Republic to the Laws:  Commentary on Schofield’ Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 13, pp. 242-52

            Edited volumes

2012. Virtue and Happiness:  Essays in Honour of Julia Annas (Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy Special Supplement)

2006. A Companion to Socrates (co-editor, with Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Blackwell Companions to Philosophy series, Blackwell)

2004. Critical Essays on Plato’s Euthyphro, Crito, and Apology (Rowman and Littlefield)

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