John McDowell is currently University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and though he has a lengthy bibliography covering metaphysics, epistemology, ancient philosophy, and meta-ethics, he is best known for his influential work in the areas of philosophy of mind and philosophy of language.
His work has been significantly influenced by Wilfrid Sellars and Ludwig Wittgenstein, evident not just in his approach to philosophy of language, but to philosophy as a whole, understanding his own work as a type of philosophical quietism. In this view, McDowell sees philosophy as therapeutic, with its goal being to sooth and dissolve philosophical error, to find where philosophers have caused aggravation and to quiet it by discovering where things went wrong. Instead of pushing for radical new ideas, and increasingly complicated conceptions of meaning, knowledge, reality, etc.
Mary Midgley studied at Oxford, though did not earn a doctorate, but has received honorary doctorates from both Durham University and Newcastle University. Midgley has taught off and on through the years, her longest stint being at Newcastle University from to , and did not publish her first book Beast and Man until she was 59 years old. Midgley is a moral philosopher who has also worked in the areas of philosophy of science and animal rights. Because of these views, Midgley is probably most famous for her criticism of and ongoing debate with Richard Dawkins.
She argues these views are overly reductionist in scope. Moreland's background is spread across multiple disciplines, having earned a B. He is known for his many books, media appearances, and his involvement with the evangelical organization Campus Crusade for Christ.
Web resource: J. P Moreland's Home Page. Morton's work is primarily focused in ontology and ecotheory, as well as literary theory and criticism. Morton has been most influential in the development of the focus of ontology in contemporary philosophy, and is most famous for his book Ecology Without Nature , and his major role in the object-oriented ontology OOO movement. In response to this problem, Morton argues that we dissolve this binary opposition and begin to understand nature as a social construct that is inseparable from civilization.
Web resource: Timothy Morton's Home Page. Nagel was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and received a B. He went on to study under J. Austin, the famous philosopher of language, at Oxford, before earning a PhD. Nagel might be most famous for his aforementioned essay, in which he refutes the materialist reductionist view of consciousness that dominated the field of philosophy of mind at the time, promoting a subjectivist approach. To simplify, what Nagel argues is that even though we may be able to objectively describe the physical processes that produce what we understand as consciousness, that does not enable us to describe consciousness itself, as consciousness is a subjective mental experience.
We can study a bat, understand how its brain works, but say nothing objective about its consciousness; rather, we are limited to speaking about only our own consciousness, as we are limited to subjective experience. The thought experiment presented in the essay has been very influential in the debate about what we can and cannot claim when discussing the mind and consciousness.
More recently, Nagel has stirred up controversy in his book Mind and Cosmos by continuing to argue against reductionism, this time in the form of the Neo-Darwinist account of the emergence of life. Though not arguing from religion he is an atheist and not arguing for a theory of intelligent design, Nagel claims that the theory of natural selection alone cannot account for the existence of consciousness. Web resource: Thomas Nagel's Home Page. Jean-Luc Nancy received his Ph. He eventually became a Professor at the University of Strasbourg, and, though he is now retired, continues to add publication credits to his already lengthy bibliography.
His approach is associated with continental philosophy and deconstructionism, and his work is primarily focused in ontology and literary criticism. His most influential work, The Inoperative Community presents and explores this focus, arguing that much of society's problems result from designing society around pre-conceived definitions of what society should be, and failing to understand it for how it actually is.
Martha Nussbaum earned her Ph. Working in the analytic school of philosophy, Nussbaum is has primarily focused on political philosophy, ethics including animal rights , and feminism. She came from a background of East Coast high society which she resents and in her career has experienced no shortage of sexist discrimination, harassment, and resistance as she has entered and challenged the old boys' club of philosophical academia, an institution about which Nussbaum has criticized Noam Chomsky for helping to maintain. On top of all of that, Nussbaum has been awarded 51 honorary degrees.
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Much of Nussbaum's work focuses on unequal freedom and opportunity for women, making her a notable feminist, and she has argued for a radical reconsideration of gender relations, roles and norms. Nussbaum has drawn on ancient Roman and Greek philosophy in order to make her arguments, such as in her books The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy and Cultivating Humanity Somewhat due to this focus, Nussbaum testified in the Colorado bench trial for the landmark U. Supreme Court case Romer v. Web resource: Martha Nussbaum's Home Page. Oderberg has worked in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion, but is perhaps best known for his particularly conservative moral philosophy.
In his book influential Applied Ethics , Oderberg argues against notable moral philosopher Peter Singer, and contemporary utilitarian and consequentialist approaches to moral philosophy. For Oderberg, a fetus is an innocent life, and abortion and euthanasia are equivalent to contract killing. Oderberg has also been in the forefront of philosophers interested in renewing traditional i.
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Web resource: David Oderberg's Home Page. Alvin Plantinga received his PhD. Plantinga's work blends epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion, largely focusing on the existence and nature of God, argued from a protestant viewpoint, in such books as God and Other Minds , The Nature of Necessity , and Warranted Christian Belief As a student, Graham Priest studied more mathematics than philosophy, and earned a Ph. His work is primarily focused in logic, and he has been widely published with an estimated papers to his name, in addition to six books. John Searle received his Ph.
Searle's work primarily addresses problems in the areas of philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. Earlier in his career, Searle focused specifically on philosophy of language, particularly the work of J. In his book Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language Searle developed what came to be known as speech-act theory, taking a very systematic approach to investigating the relationship between illocutionary acts and meaning; this would later lead to a major debate with Jacques Derrida. Depending on what you read and where you study, Searle may be more notable for his influential work in philosophy of mind.
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Web resource: John Searle's Home Page. Peter Simons earned his Ph. His writing primarily focuses on metaphysics and ontology, as seen in his book Parts: A Study in Ontology , and he is also interested in the history of Central European philosophy, discussed in his book Philosophy and Logic in Central Europe from Bolzano to Tarski: Selected Essays Though he only has two books to his name, Simons has published over two hundred articles.
In his work, Simons has been influential in his particular concern with the application of metaphysics and ontology to non-philosophical disciplines, especially in engineering. Web resource: Peter Simons's Home Page. Peter Singer received an M. Singer specializes in applied ethics, and is best known for his contemporary utilitarianism.
Being a specialist in applied ethics, Singer has been influential not just through his books and articles, but through his actions. Singer is a very popular moral philosopher, both in and out of academia, and because of his fame, influence, outspokenness and moral stance, Singer has garnered controversy and protest, especially among conservative groups. One of Singer's major works, and perhaps what he is best known for, is Practical Ethics , in which he theorizes on the application of utilitarianism to contemporary problems.
Singer evaluates how the individual interests of living beings should be weighed, concluding that they do not all garner equal treatment.
Singer is a strong advocate of altruism, arguing that our goal should be to reduce suffering in the most effective way possible. Singer is also a major advocate of animal rights, and his book Animal Liberation has been very influential to the modern animal liberation movement. Web resource: Peter Singer's Home Page. As an undergraduate, Barry Smith studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Oxford, before earning his Ph. As evidenced from his professorial titles, Smith occupies both the role of philosopher and scientist, blending the two areas of study through his dual focus on ontology and biomedical informatics.
Smith has published articles in as many scientific publications has he has in philosophical publications, and his approach can be roughly described as applied ontology, as opposed to the very theoretical approach that is usually associated with ontology.
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Smith's influence is notable outside of academia, such as his involvement with global health organizations in advancing biomedical informatics, and even with the U. Army and Air Force. Web resource: Barry Smith's Home Page. Though he has written on metaphysics and philosophy of mind, Sosa is primarily an epistemologist.
Virtue epistemology represents a renewed philosophical interest in the concept of virtue, introducing intellectual virtues as a way to resolve the debate between foundationalism and coherentism. Finding problems with both schools of thought, Sosa put forth virtue epistemology, foregoing formulaic expressions that are designed to explain knowledge and instead applying virtue theory to human intellect, using virtue as the basis for assessing what is and is not knowledge.
As virtue is based on the qualities of the individual, virtue ethics is person-based, rather than belief-based, and so, takes a more relativist approach to answering the Gettier problem. Helen Steward , who earned her Ph. In her work she is primarily concerned with free will, and combines philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of action, and ontology. In her major book A Metaphysics for Freedom , Steward develops this approach, arguing against a determinist theory of free will as both a problem for human and animal action.
Through her ideas, Steward has been influential to the development of the post-humanist approach in philosophy and critical theory.
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