Paul Woodruff

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Paul Woodruff (born 1943) is a classicist, professor of philosophy, and was dean at The University of Texas at Austin, where he once chaired the department of philosophy and has more recently held the Hayden Head Regents Chair as director of Plan II Honors program, which he resigned in 2006 after 15 years of service. On September 21, 2006, University President William C. Powers, Jr. named Dr. Woodruff the inaugural dean of undergraduate studies. He is best known for his work on Socrates, Plato, and philosophy of theater. A beloved professor, he taught courses outside his Ancient Greek Philosophy specialty, including literature courses and specialty seminars, often for the Plan II program.


Born in New Jersey (though raised in western Pennsylvania), Woodruff attended Princeton University, where he completed a major in Classics in 1965. His studies then took him to Merton College of Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar, where he completed a Bachelor's Degree in Literae Humaniores in 1968. Inspired by the Socratic beliefs on rule of law, he served in the United States Army in the Vietnam War from 1969 to 1971, during which time he attained the rank of Captain. Returning to the United States, he again attended Princeton University, where he completed his doctorate in Philosophy, studying under Gregory Vlastos.

He joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin in 1973, retiring from the department in the fall of 2022.[1]

In 1974 he married Lucia Woodruff and they had two children (Rachel Woodruff in 1975, and Katherine Lange in 1977) and now have six grandchildren (Jane Lange 2005 (deceased), Zora Daniel 2008, Megan Lange 2009, Sofia Daniel 2011, Cora Lange 2012, and Ruth Lange (2015)).

He recently published an essay in the Washington Post describing his philosophy of life as he faces death as the result of bronchiectasis.[2]



  • Plato (1982). Hippias major. Translated, with commentary and essay, by Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett.
  • Reverence; Renewing a Forgotten Virtue Oxford University Press (2001)
  • First Democracy; The Challenge of an Ancient Idea Oxford University Press (2005)
  • The Necessity of Theater; The Art of Watching and Being Watched Oxford University Press (2008)
  • The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness, and Rewards Oxford University Press (2011)


  • Plato: Two Comic Dialogues (Ion and Hippias Major) Hackett (1983)
  • Plato: Symposium (with Alexander Nehamas) Hackett (1999)
  • Thucydides on Justice, Power, and Human Nature Hackett (1993)
  • Plato: Phaedrus (with Alexander Nehamas) Hackett (1995)
  • Euripides Bacchae Hackett (1998)
  • Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus (with Peter Meineck) Hackett (2000)
  • Sophocles: Antigone Hackett (2001)
  • Sophocles: Theban Plays, with Introductions by Paul Woodruff (with Peter Meineck) Hackett (2003)


  • Facing Evil; Light at the Core of Darkness. (with Harry A. Wilmer) Open Court Press (1988)
  • Early Greek Political Thought from Homer to the Sophists (with Michael Gagarin) Cambridge University Press (1995)
  • Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy (edited, with Nicholas D. Smith) Oxford University Press (2000)

Critical studies and reviews[edit]

  • Pigliucci, Massimo (Mar–Apr 2013). "[Untitled review of The Ajax dilemma]". Books. Philosophy Now. 95: 44.

Awards and recognition[edit]


  • Harry Ransom Teaching Award
  • Academy of Distinguished Teachers
  • Austin Book Award
  • B. Iden Payne Award for best new play (1983)
  • Pro Bene Meritis (2002)
  • Civitatis (2007)

Academic positions[edit]

  • Dean of Undergraduate Studies
  • Chair, Department of Philosophy
  • Hayden Head Chair as Director of the Plan II Honors Program
  • Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professor in the Humanities

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile for Paul B Woodruff at UT Austin". Retrieved 2023-04-28.
  2. ^ Woodruff, Paul (April 27, 2023). "My death is close at hand. But I do not think of myself as dying". Washington Post. Retrieved April 27, 2023.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]