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Prof. Anita Allen to receive the Philip L. Quinn Prize, the American Philosophical Association’s highest honor

December 14, 2021

Prof. Allen served as President of the APA’s Eastern Division in 2018-19 – the organization’s first Black woman president.

The American Philosophical Association (APA) has selected Anita L. Allen, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, as the 2021 winner of the APA’s Philip L. Quinn Prize, the greatest tribute the APA has to offer in recognition of service to philosophy and philosophers, broadly construed.

“We are so pleased and proud that our colleague Anita Allen has received this well-deserved honor,” said Ted Ruger, Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. “She has inspired many of us as a scholar and teacher and the APA with this award recognizes her incredibly important achievements over many years.”

Dominic McIver Lopes, chair of the APA board of officers, said:

Anita Allen once remarked in an interview that she’s ‘committed to helping to improve the discipline.’ Nobody has surpassed her in that regard. She famously challenged us to reflect upon what we have to offer those we’ve excluded and hope to include, and she’s championed inclusion at every opportunity. She pioneered the philosophy of privacy, balancing it against accountability and equity. She’s taken the message of philosophy to the airwaves, even appearing on 60 Minutes. And she has served professionally, at the highest levels, as President of the APA Eastern Division, as chair of the board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and as a member of President Barak Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She holds two honorary doctorates and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In awarding her the 2021 Philip L. Quinn Prize, the APA celebrates Professor Anita Allen for her extraordinary blend of scholarship and leadership.

The prize memorializes Philip L. Quinn, a former president of the APA Central Division and former chair of the APA board of officers and carries with it a $2,500 check and engraved plaque, which will be presented to Allen at a prize reception at an upcoming APA meeting.

“This award means the world to me,” said Allen. “It reflects the unexpected success of my interdisciplinary commitments as a scholar, teacher, and mentor. It was remarkable to have been the first Black woman APA president in 2018-19 and it’s a special achievement, as a Black woman, to be receiving the highest award for service to the discipline.”

Allen is an internationally renowned expert on philosophical dimensions of privacy and data protection law, ethics, bioethics, legal philosophy, women’s rights, and diversity in higher education. She was Penn’s Vice Provost for Faculty from 2013-2020 and chaired the Provost’s Arts Advisory Council.

Allen is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Law Institute and has also served on the faculty of the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell, for which she is an advisor; a two-year term as an Associate of the Johns Hopkins Humanities Center concluded in 2018.

A prolific scholar, Allen has published over 120 articles and chapters, and her books include Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide (Oxford, 2011); Privacy Law and Society (Thomson/West, 2017); The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (Miramax/Hyperion, 2004); Why Privacy Isn’t Everything: Feminist Reflections on Personal Accountability (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), and Uneasy Access: Privacy of Women in a Free Society (1988). She has given lectures all over the world and appeared on television, radio and written for major media.

Allen currently serves on the Board of the National Constitution Center and has served on numerous other boards and professional advisory boards, including the Pennsylvania Board of Continuing Judicial Education, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the AALS Executive Committee, the Maternity Care Coalition and the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children.

She was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in 2015 and chaired its Board (2019-2022). Allen is a member of the Pennsylvania and New York bars and formerly taught at Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Pittsburgh, after practicing briefly at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and teaching philosophy at Carnegie-Mellon University.

She is a graduate of Harvard Law and holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Michigan.