Debra Nails is professor of philosophy emerita. She received the B.A. in philosophy, and the M.A. in philosophy and classical Greek, from Louisiana State University; she received the Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1993. Before joining Michigan State University in 2000, she was an associate professor in the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion at Mary Washington College.

She is the author of The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics (Hackett 2002); Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy (Springer 1995), and articles on ancient Greek philosophy, especially Plato, Spinoza, academic freedom and due process, and feminist philosophy. She is co-editor with Harold Tarrant of Second Sailing: Alternative Perspectives on Plato (SSF, 2015); co-editor with J. H. Lesher and Frisbee Sheffield of Plato's Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception (Harvard 2006); co-editor with Abner Shimony of Naturalistic Epistemology: A Symposium of Two Decades (Reidel 1987); and co-editor with Marjorie Grene of Spinoza and the Sciences (Reidel 1986), the latter two in the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science series. She is committed to procedural justice in the academy: she currently serves on the American Association of University Professors Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and previously served as chair of the AAUP Committee on Professional Ethics, and chair of the American Philosophical Association Committee for the Defense of Professional Rights of Philosophers. In July of 2013, she was appointed Book Review Editor for the Journal of the History of Philosophy. In 2014, she received the Paul Varg Alumni Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. In 2016, she was elected to the Societas Scientiarum Fennica.