Born July 12th, 1944. Married Angela Bowles, 1968. Two children: Gwendolen, b. 1973; James, b.1975.


Education and Degrees.


Clifton College, Bristol 1957–61 (Scholar); Trinity College, Cambridge 1962. Part 1 Moral Sciences Tripos (1964). Senior Scholar of Trinity 1964. Part 2 Moral Sciences Tripos (Logic), BA Hons degree, 1965. ; PhD, Cambridge, 1970: ‘The Problem of Induction’, examined Professors A.J. Ayer and M. Hesse. Honorary LLD, University of Sunderland, 1998. Fellow of the British Academy, 2001.


Present Appointment

The Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, 2001.

Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge

(Honorary Fellow, Pembroke College Oxford)


Appointments Held


Research Fellowship, Churchill College Cambridge 1967—69

Fellow & Lecturer in Philosophy, Pembroke College, Oxford 1969—1990  

Dean of Pembroke, 1971—1974

Visiting Associate Professor, University of Melbourne, 1975

Visiting Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, 1976

Visiting Professor, Universidad Autonomia de Mexico, 1982

Radcliffe Research Fellowship, 1980—1982

Chairman, Board of PPE examiners, Oxford, 1983

Visiting Distinguished Professor, Oberlin College, Fall 1984

Editor of Mind 1985—90

Research Readership of the British Academy, 1986—88.

Visiting Professor, Princeton University, Spring 1987

Distinguished Visitor to University of Calgary,  January 1987

Distinguished Visitor to Poland (Cracow) October 1987

Visiting Distinguished Professor, Ohio State University, Spring 1988

Nelson Visiting Lecturer, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Fall 1988

Edna J. Koury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1990—2000.

Adjunct Professor, Australian National University, 1993—

Visiting Professor, University of Bari, Italy, Summer 1995

Visiting Distinguished Professor, C.U.N.Y. Graduate School, Spring 1998, Spring 1999, Fall 1999, Fall 2003

Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, January 2001

Erskine Fellow, University of Canterbury, Summer 2001.



Invited Seminar Papers


Moral Sciences Club, Cambridge (twice), Philosophy Society, Oxford (thrice), Durham, Newcastle, York, Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Cambridge, King’s College, London, University College, London, Birkbeck College, London, Open University, Sussex, East Anglia, Essex, Bristol, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Warwick,  Syracuse, Cornell (twice), Berkeley, Stanford,  U.C.L.A., M.I.T., Columbia (thrice), Pittsburgh, Indiana (Bloomington), Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame (thrice), U.S.C., Brown,  Rutgers, Ohio State, Penn State, N.Y.U., C.U.N.Y., Arizona, San  Diego, Wayne State Detroit (twice), Georgetown University, Virginia Tech, University of Colorado, Georgia, UNC Greensborough, Virginia, Universities of Delhi, Lucknow, Pondicherry, Jadhavpur, University of Bari, University of Rome, University of Florence, Sydney, Monash, Melbourne, Macquarie, Queensland, Auckland, University of Lisbon, Bowling Green University, New York University, City University of New York, British Society for the Philosophy of Science, London School of Economics, St. Andrews, Royal Institute for Philosophy, Cambridge University dept of History and Philosophy of Science, Oslo University, Princeton University, Tufts University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Colgate University, Sorbonne (Paris), Bucharest, Lisbon, Oslo, Helsinki, Budapest, Lund, etc.


Invited Papers at International Conferences

Philosophy of Language and Action, Mexico 1981. Realism and Science, Halifax Nova Scotia, 1983. Invited lecturer  to European University, Alpbach, summer 1983, University of  Toronto series on Philosophy of Language (other speakers: Katz,  Stalnaker, Kaplan), Fall 1984. The Future of Analytic Philosophy, Munich,  Spring 1986, Zadar, Yugoslavia, Fall 1986, Oberlin Colloquium, Spring 1989 , Analysis half-centenary conference, Cambridge University, Spring 1990,  Conference on Value, Welfare and Morality, Bowling Green State University, Spring 1990, International Gifford Conference on the work of Hilary Putnam, St. Andrews, Scotland, Nov. 1991, American Philosophical Association, December 1991, Society for Hispanic-American Philosophy, Spring 1992, Beijing Conference for Philosophy of Science, June 1992, Aristotelian Society July 1991, Santa Clara Conference on Hume, Spring 1993. Hume Society (keynote address) Rome, 1994, Hutcheson Conference, Glasgow, 1994; Achilles and the Tortoise, Glasgow, 1995, Notre Dame Conference on the work of Bernard Williams, 1995, Hume and Contemporary Pragmatism, University of Sydney, Australia, Summer 1997, Jean Hampton Memorial Conference, University of Arizona, Fall 1997, Naturalism and Rationality Conference, University of Stirling, Spring 1998, Multiculturalism and Moral Philosophy, University of Oslo, September 1998. Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture, London, October 1998. ‘Naturalism and Normativity’ Edinburgh University, May 1999. ‘Some remarks on Minimalism and Truth’ St Andrews University, May 1999. ‘Why Bother to Think?’ Edinburgh International Festival Book Fair, August 1999. ‘Relativism revisited’ Royal Society for Philosophy (London) September 1999. ‘Emotion and Valuation’ Ohio State University, Columbus, October 22, 1999. ‘Virtue Epistemology’, Santa Barbara confernece on epistemology, November 1999. ‘Intention and Tort’ University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia law and philosophy conference, November 1999. Institute of Arts and Sciences talk: ‘Why bother to Think?’ February 2000. ‘Elizabeth Anscombe on Desire’, University College, London February 2000. ‘Relativism revisited’ University of Nebraska, Lincoln, March 2000. ‘The Theory of Ruling Passions’ Arizona State, Tempe, April 2000. Campus Visiting Professor, Ohio State, Athens, May 10th - 13th, 2000, Philosophical Exchange Lecture, New York State University, Brockport, November 2000, Enlightenment and Aristotelian Virtues, Bonn, Spring 2002, Utility and Law Confernce, Lisbon, Spring 2003, Mind, Bucharest, 2005, Ethics Herakleion (Crete) 2006. Pragmatism, Sydney, 2007.



Named Lectures and Invited Appointments


Franklin J. Matchette Lecture at the City University of New York, 1988.

E.W. Hall  Memorial lecture at the University of Iowa, 1989.

R.B. MacCallum Memorial Lecture, Pembroke College Oxford, 1989.

Gail Stine Memorial Lecture, Wayne State Detroit Spring 1991

Wittgenstein Lecturer, University of Bayreuth, July 1992

Radhakrishnan Memorial Lecture, Indian Institute for Advanced Study, Simla, 1995

Louis Loeb Memorial Lecture, Emory University, Spring 1997

Frank Fraser Potter Memorial Lecture, Washington State University, Fall 1997

Selfridge Distinguished Visitor, Lehigh University, Fall 2000.

Brown Memorial Lecture, University of Vermont, Spring 2001

Voltaire Lecture, British Humanists Association 2001

Justin Hartnack Memorial Lecture, University of Arhus, 2002

Michael Lumsden Memorial Lecture, University of Nottingham, 2003

Gifford Lectures, University of Glasgow, Spring 2004

Lindley Lecture, University of Kansas, Fall 2004

Truax lecturer, Hamilton College, NY, Spring 2005

Lewis Frumkes Annual Lecturer, NYU, Fall 2005

Stanislaw Kaminski lectures, University of Lublin, Spring 2006.

Ryle Lectures, Trent University, Canada, 2007

Erasmus Professor in the Humanities, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, 2007

Gavin David Young lecturer, Adelaide, 2007.

Provost’s Lecture, Duke University, Fall 2007

Paul Tomassi Memorial Lecture, University of Aberdeen, Fall 2007



Hagerstrom Lectures, University of Uppsala, Sweden, 2008

Royal Institute of Philosophy, Annual Lecture, 2009



Main Publications


‘Goodman’s Paradox’ American Philosophical Quarterly Studies in  Philosophy of Science, 1969


‘Searle on Descriptions’, Mind,  1973


‘Moral Realism’ in Morality and Moral Reasoning  ed. J. Casey, Methuen, London, 1973


Reason and Prediction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1973


Meaning, Reference and Necessity, (ed.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1975


‘The Identity of Propositions’ in the above


‘The Power of Russell’s Criticism of Frege’, Analysis , 1977 (joint paper with Alan Code of Berkeley)


‘Geach Again’ Analysis , 1977 (with Alan Code)


‘Thought and Things’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 1978


‘Truth, Realism and the Regulation of Theory’ Midwest Studies in Philosophy, v, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis 1980


‘Opinions and Chances’ in Prospects for Pragmatism, ed. D.H. Mellor, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1980


‘Rule Following and Moral Realism’ in Wittgenstein, To Follow a Rule, ed. S. Holtzman & S. Leich, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Henley, 1981


Philosophical Logic, Open University Text, 1981


Spreading the Word, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1984


 ‘Knowledge, Truth and Reliability’, Henrietta Hertz Lecture of the British Academy, 1984


‘The Individual Strikes Back’ SynthŹse  1985


‘Supervenience Revisited’ in Exercises in Analysis  ed. Ian Hacking, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1985 (anthologised in Moral Realism, ed. G. Sayre McCord, Cornell University Press, 1988)


‘Error and The Phenomenology of Value’ in Ethics and Objectivity, ed. T. Honderich, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Henley, 1985


‘Finding Psychology’, Philosophical Quarterly, April 1986 (invited  introduction to a special psychology issue)


‘What about Me?’, (invited reply to John Perry) Proceedings of the  Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 1986 


‘How Can we Tell Whether a Commitment has a Truth Condition?’ in Meaning and Interpretation, ed. Charles Travis, Blackwell, Oxford, 1986


‘Making Ends Meet’, Critical Notice of Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Philosophical Books, 1986


‘Morals and Modals’ in Fact, Science and Value, Essays in Honour of A.J. Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic, edited by C. Wright and G. Macdonald,  Blackwell, Oxford 1987.


‘How to be an Ethical Anti-Realist’ in Midwest  Studies, xii, 1988, ed. French, Uehling and Wettstein.


‘Attitudes and Content’, Ethics, April 1988.


‘Government and the Universities’, Times Literary Supplement, Dec. 1988.


‘Manifesting Realism’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, xii, ed. French, Uehling & Wettstein, 1989.


‘Wittgenstein’s Irrealism’ in Wittgenstein: Towards a Re-Evaluation, ed. Rudolph Haller and Johannes Brandl, Vienna: Verlag Hölder-Adler-Tempsky, 1990, pp. 13 – 26.


‘Filling in Space’, Analysis (special half-centenary volume), April 1990.


‘Hume and Thick Connexions’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (special half-centenary volume) 1990.


‘Just Causes’ Philosophical Studies 1990


‘Reply to Sturgeon’ Philosophical Studies 1990


‘Losing Your Mind: Physics, Identity and Folk Burglar Prevention’ in The Future of Folk Psychology, ed. John Greenwood, Cambridge University Press, 1991.


Critical Notice of Allan Gibbard’s Wise Choices, Apt Feelings , for Ethics, Spring 1992.


‘Through Thick and Thin,’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian  Society, Supplementary Volume 66 (1992): 285-99


Essays In Quasi-Realism, New York, Oxford University Press, 1993


The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994. (trans. into Portuguese, Greek, Polish, Turkish, Serbian, Estonian, Rumanian, Mandarin etc.)


‘Circles, Finks, Smells and Biconditionals’, Philosophical Perspectives, 7, 1993.


‘The Flight to Realism’ in Virtues and Reasons: Philippa Foot and Moral Theory, edited Rosalind Husthouse, Gavin Lawrence, and Warren Quinn, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995


‘Les aspects du subjectivisme moral’ in the Dictionnaire de Philosophie Morale, ed. Monique Canto Sperber. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1995.


‘Justification, Scepticism and Nihilism’, Utilitas,  vii, 1995, pp. 237 - 246


‘Securing the Nots: Moral Epistemology for the Quasi-Realist’, in Moral Epistemology, New York, Oxford University Press, ed. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, 1996.


‘Practical Tortoise Raising’, Mind, civ, 1995 (this paper was selected as one of the top ten papers published in 1995 by The Philosophers Annual)


‘Dilemmas, Dithering, Plumping, and Grief’ in Moral Dilemmas and Moral Theory. ed. H. Mason, New York, Oxford University Press, 1996.


‘I Rather Think I am a Darwinian’ Philosophy, 71, 1996, pp. 605 - 616.


‘Has Kant Refuted Parfit’ (invited contribution to the collection Reading Parfit, edited by Jonathan Dancy), 1997, pp. 180–202.


‘Wittgenstein, Wright, Rorty & Minimalism’  Mind 1998, 157–181.


‘Relativization and Truth’, in The Philosophy of P. F. Strawson, Open Court, 1998, 151–167.


‘Reply to Harman and Thomson’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58, 1998, 212–6.


‘Trust, Cooperation and Human Psychology’, in Trust and Governance, ed. Valerie Braithwaite and Margaret Levi, New York: The Russell Sage Foundation, 1998, 28–45.


Ruling Passions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.


Truth (edited with Keith Simmons), Oxford: Oxford University Press, vi + 406 pp. 1999.


Think, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 312pp. 1999.


‘Is Objective Moral Justification Possible on a Quasi-realist Foundation?’ Inquiry, Vol 42, June 1999, 195—213.


‘Alchemies of the Mind’, Times Literary Supplement, October 1999, p. 3—4.


‘Am I Right?’ New York Times Book Review, Feb 21, 1999, p. 24.


‘Professor Whatever’, New Republic, February 7th   2000. Pp. 34—40.


‘Revaluations: Hume’ Times Literary Supplement, March 2000, pp.?


‘Logical Humanism’ The New Republic, April 2000, 95—100.


Critical Notice of Frank Jackson, From Metaphysics to Ethics, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol 78, March 2000. Pp. 119—124


Being Good. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 172pp., 2001. (reprinted as A Very Short Introduction to Ethics, 2003)


‘Normativity a la Mode’ Journal of Ethics, 2001, 139 – 153.


‘Realism: Deconstructing the Debate’ Ratio, xv, June 2002, 111–34


Summary and Replies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2002,


‘Is there a Crisis of Truth’ in the Humanities?’ British Academy address, Fall 2002.


‘Julius Caesar and George Berkeley Play Leapfrog’, in McDowell and his Critics, ed. C. & G. MacDonald, 2006.


‘Must we Weep for Sentimentalism?’ in J. Dreier, ed., Contemporary Ethics, Blackwell, 2005.


‘Quasi-Realism No Fictionalism’, in Mark Kalderon, ed. Moral Fictionalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.


‘Success Semantics’ in Hugh Mellor, ed. Ramsey’s Legacy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.


Lust  New York: Oxford University Press, 2004


Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed.  Penguin Books (UK) and OUP (New York) Spring 2005.


Plato’s Republic, New York: Grove Atlantic, 2006.


‘Perspectives, Fictions, Errors, Play’ in Nietzsche and Morality, ed. Brian Leiter and Neil Sinhababu, OUP 2007


‘Is Human Nature Natural?’ forthcoming in The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (2nd edition, ed. Jonathan Hodge & Gregory Radick, Cambridge University Press, 2008.


‘Putnam on Williams’ forthcoming in Reading Bernard Williams, ed. Daniel Calcutt.



This list does not include most of my earlier Reviews and Critical Notices. I have reviewed for most British journals, The Philosophical Review, SynthŹse, The London Review of Books and frequently for the Times Literary Supplement, including longer notices of Richard Rorty’s Prospects for Pragmatism, Stephen Stich’s From Folk Psychology to Cognitive Science, Crispin Wright’s Collected Papers, the work and influence of G.E. Moore, the collected papers of Paul Grice, and Metaphysics and Morals by Iris Murdoch. I reviewed Scanlon’s What we Owe to Each Other for the New York Times Book Review, and the second volume of Ray Monk’s biography of Russell, as well as Bernhard Henri Levy on Sartre for The Sunday Times. I have written review essays for the Financial Times, and have done numerous pieces for the New Republic, including articles on Umberto Eco, Martin Heidegger, Martha Nussbaum, A. J. Ayer, Stephen Pinker, Donald Davidson and Bernard Williams. These and some other reviews are visible at

I have not attempted to keep up with translations, although Oxford University Press informs me that my books have been translated into at least eighteen languages, including Japanese and Taiwanese. Plato’s Republic is also currently being translated into eighteen languages, including Korean, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Italian, German, Greek, Russian, Japanese, and Finnish. Oxford University Press will bring out my second volume of collected papers next year.



In 1992–3 I chaired the University of North Carolina Committee on Cultural Diversity in the General Education Syllabus, whose report was accepted and implemented in 1993. In 1995 I chaired the Taskforce on Educational Support Services in the university, for the university’s reaccreditation exercise. I also served on the Dean’s Committee on Appointments to Endowed Professorships. From 1992–1995 I served on the American Philosophical Association Program Committee (Eastern Division). I serve on the board of Hume Studies and of Ethics. In 1999—2000 I served on the Distinguished Professorship selection committee for UNC. In 2000 I was appointed to the Fellowship Selection Committee of the Leverhulme Trustees. I sit on various committees in Cambridge, including Trinity College Council, and I am currently Chair of the British Academy Grants Committee, responsible for distributing research money to humanities and arts research projects in the UK. I am a Vice-President of the British Humanists Association. I have served on Professorial search committees for the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, University College London, and the University of East Anglia.




Mountaineering (declining with age), sailing (sprightly), black-and-white photography (becoming overtaken by digital), reading (constant), conversation (improving).