The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies held a virtual event on the afternoon of April 30 to honor Barbara Levenbook on the occasion of her retirement and celebrate her 41-year academic career at NC State.
Levenbook grew up and went to high school in the hamlet of Franklin Square on Long Island. She proceeded to college at the University of Rochester, where she also completed the M.A. in Philosophy. She then went on to the Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Arizona, where she specialized in the philosophy of law.
After completing the Ph.D., Levenbook served on the philosophy faculty at the University of Oklahoma for three years before she was appointed as an assistant professor of philosophy at NC State in 1980. She was promoted to associate professor in 1986 and to professor in 2015. During her time in the department, she has taught over 160 course-sections and over 6,800 students.
A scholar in legal philosophy, Levenbook initiated the introduction of the B.A. in Philosophy with a Concentration in Philosophy of Law in 1984. Since then she has been its academic leader, its guardian, its greatest promoter, the instructor of its core courses and the chief advisor of its students. Over the entire period, she has also championed the interests of all pre-law students at NC State.
The B.A. in Philosophy with a Concentration in Philosophy of Law, which is unique, consistently draws about 25% of the department’s philosophy majors; and many of its graduates go on to law school—including, in some cases, excellent law schools. The program also increases the diversity of students who major in philosophy at NC State by attracting far more students from groups that are under-represented in the discipline, including women and African Americans, than most major programs in philosophy in America.
Levenbook has published many articles, chapters in books and other scholarly works; she has given numerous scholarly presentations; and she has developed a significant international reputation. Her publications include articles and chapters—on topics such as the interpretation and the application of statutes, legal reasoning, the meaning of a precedent, and legal positivism—which have been very influential in the fields of legal philosophy and jurisprudence. She is also recognized for other scholarly work, including, most notably, her publications on the possibility of harming persons after their death.
Levenbook has been appointed professor emerita and plans to continue her scholarly work in legal philosophy. We wish her a rich and rewarding retirement.