Sir Peter Frederick Strawson
|Born||23 November 1919|
|Died||13 February 2006 86) (aged|
|Alma mater||St John's College, Oxford|
|Philosophy of language · Philosophy of mind|
| Ordinary language philosophy |
Personal reactive attitudes
The distinction between sortal and characterising universals
The distinction between particular individuals (such as historical events, material objects and persons) and non-particular individuals (such as qualities, properties, numbers, species)
The "descriptive metaphysics" and "revisionary metaphysics" distinction
Sir Peter Frederick Strawson FBA ( // ; 23 November 1919 – 13 February 2006), usually cited as P. F. Strawson, was an English philosopher. He was the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at the University of Oxford (Magdalen College) from 1968 to 1987. Before that, he was appointed as a college lecturer at University College, Oxford, in 1947, and became a tutorial fellow the following year, until 1968. On his retirement in 1987, he returned to the college and continued working there until shortly before his death. His portrait was painted by the artists Muli Tang and Daphne Todd.
The Waynflete Professorships are four professorial fellowships at the University of Oxford endowed by Magdalen College and named in honour of the college founder William of Waynflete, who had a great interest in science. These professorships are statutory professorships of the University, that is, they are professorships established in the university's regulations, and which are by those regulations attached to Magdalen College in particular. The oldest professorship is the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy. The three science professorships were created following the recommendation of the University Commission in 1857, in recognition of William of Waynflete's lifetime support of science. The professorships are the Waynflete Professor of Chemistry, the Waynflete Professor of Physiology, and the Waynflete Professor of Pure Mathematics.
The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly called 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Magdalen College is one of the wealthiest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford, with an estimated financial endowment of £273 million as of 2018. Magdalen stands next to the River Cherwell and has within its grounds a deer park and Addison's Walk. The large, square Magdalen Tower is an Oxford landmark, and it is a tradition, dating to the days of Henry VII, that the college choir sings from the top of it at 6 a.m. on May Morning.
When he died, the obituary in The Guardian noted that, "Oxford was the world capital of philosophy between 1950 and 1970, and American academics flocked there, rather than the traffic going the other way. That golden age had no greater philosopher than Sir Peter Strawson."
The Guardian is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian, and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers The Observer and The Guardian Weekly, the Guardian is part of the Guardian Media Group, owned by the Scott Trust. The trust was created in 1936 to "secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of the Guardian free from commercial or political interference". The trust was converted into a limited company in 2008, with a constitution written so as to maintain for The Guardian the same protections as were built into the structure of the Scott Trust by its creators. Profits are reinvested in journalism rather than distributed to owners or shareholders.
Strawson was born in Ealing, west London, and brought up in Finchley, north London, by his parents, both of whom were teachers. He was educated at Christ's College, Finchley, followed by St John's College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
Ealing is a district of west London, England, located 7.9 miles (12.7 km) west of Charing Cross. It is the administrative centre of the London Borough of Ealing, and identified as a major metropolitan centre in the London Plan.
Finchley is an area of northwest London, England, in the London Borough of Barnet. Finchley is on high ground, 11 km (6.8 mi) north of Charing Cross.
Christ's College is a secondary school with academy status in East Finchley, London, United Kingdom. It falls under the London Borough of Barnet Local Education Authority for admissions. Since September 2018, Christ’s College Finchley has offered outstanding education to both girls and boys joining Year 7. The school presently has 967 students and specialises in Maths and IT.
Strawson first became well known with his article "On Referring" (1950), a criticism of Bertrand Russell's theory of descriptions (see also Definite descriptions) that Russell explained in the famous "On Denoting" article (1905).
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. At various points in his life, Russell considered himself a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, although he also confessed that his sceptical nature had led him to feel that he had "never been any of these things, in any profound sense." Russell was born in Monmouthshire into one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the United Kingdom.
The theory of descriptions is the philosopher Bertrand Russell's most significant contribution to the philosophy of language. It is also known as Russell's theory of descriptions. In short, Russell argued that the syntactic form of descriptions is misleading, as it does not correlate their logical and/or semantic architecture. While descriptions may seem fairly uncontroversial phrases, Russell argued that providing a satisfactory analysis of the linguistic and logical properties of a description is vital to clarity in important philosophical debates, particularly in semantic arguments, epistemology and metaphysics.
A definite description is a denoting phrase in the form of "the X" where X is a noun-phrase or a singular common noun. The definite description is proper if X applies to a unique individual or object. For example: "the first person in space" and "the 42nd President of the United States of America", are proper. The definite descriptions "the person in space" and "the Senator from Ohio" are improper because the noun phrase X applies to more than one thing, and the definite descriptions "the first man on Mars" and "the Senator from some Country" are improper because X applies to nothing. Improper descriptions raise some difficult questions about the law of excluded middle, denotation, modality, and mental content.
In philosophical methodology, there are (at least) two important and interrelated features of Strawson's work that are worthy of note.The first is the project of a 'descriptive' metaphysics, and the second is his notion of a shared conceptual scheme, composed of concepts operated in everyday life. In his book Individuals (1959), Strawson attempts to give a description of various concepts that form an interconnected web, representing (part of) our common, shared, human conceptual scheme. In particular, he examines our conceptions of basic particulars, and how they are variously brought under general spatio-temporal concepts. What makes this a metaphysical project is that it exhibits, in fine detail, the structural features of our thought about the world, and thus precisely delimits how we, humans, think about reality.
In metaphysics, particulars are defined as concrete, spatiotemporal entities as opposed to abstract entities, such as properties or numbers. There are, however, theories of abstract particulars or tropes. For example, Socrates is a particular. Redness, by contrast, is not a particular, because it is abstract and multiply instantiated.
Strawson was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 1960 and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1971. He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1969 to 1970. He was knighted, in 1977, for services to philosophy.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.
The Aristotelian Society for the Systematic Study of Philosophy, more generally known as the Aristotelian Society, was founded at a meeting on 19 April 1880, at 17 Bloomsbury Square.
The British honours system is a means of rewarding individuals' personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. The system consists of three types of award – honours, decorations and medals:
After serving as a captain in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during World War II, Strawson married Ann Martin in 1945. They had four children, including the philosopher Galen Strawson. He lived in Oxford all his adult life and died in hospital on 13 February 2006 after a short illness. P. F. Strawson was elder brother to Major General John Strawson.
Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.
John Henry McDowell is a South African philosopher, formerly a fellow of University College, Oxford and now University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Although he has written extensively on metaphysics, epistemology, ancient philosophy, and meta-ethics, McDowell's most influential work has been in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. McDowell was one of three recipients of the 2010 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Distinguished Achievement Award, and is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the British Academy.
Wilfrid Stalker Sellars was an American philosopher and prominent developer of critical realism, who "revolutionized both the content and the method of philosophy in the United States".
Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us—implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that directly comprehends the things as they are in themselves. The doctrine is most commonly presented as the idea that time and space are just human perceptions; they are not necessarily real concepts, just a medium through which humans internalize the universe.
Nicholas Rescher is a German-American philosopher at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the Chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science and has formerly served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department.
Ordinary language philosophy is a philosophical methodology that sees traditional philosophical problems as rooted in misunderstandings philosophers develop by distorting or forgetting what words actually mean in everyday use. "Such 'philosophical' uses of language, on this view, create the very philosophical problems they are employed to solve." Ordinary language philosophy is a branch of linguistic philosophy closely related to logical positivism.
Galen John Strawson is a British analytic philosopher and literary critic who works primarily on philosophy of mind, metaphysics, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche. He has been a consultant editor at The Times Literary Supplement for many years, and a regular book reviewer for The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Independent, the Financial Times and The Guardian. He is the son of philosopher P. F. Strawson. He holds a chair in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, and taught for many years prior to that at the University of Reading, City University of New York, and Oxford University.
In metaphysics, conceptualism is a theory that explains universality of particulars as conceptualized frameworks situated within the thinking mind. Intermediate between nominalism and realism, the conceptualist view approaches the metaphysical concept of universals from a perspective that denies their presence in particulars outside the mind's perception of them. Conceptualism is anti-realist about abstract objects, just like immanent realism is.
Gareth Evans was a British philosopher who made substantial contributions to logic, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. He is best known for his posthumous work The Varieties of Reference (1982), edited by John McDowell. The book considers different kinds of reference to objects, and argues for a number of conditions that must obtain for reference to occur.
The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a 1966 book about Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) by the Oxford philosopher Peter Strawson, in which the author tries to separate what remains valuable in Kant's work from Kant's transcendental idealism, which he rejects. The work is widely admired, and has received praise from philosophers as an important discussion of the Critique of Pure Reason, although Strawson's treatment of transcendental idealism has been criticized.
Jonathan Francis Bennett is a British philosopher of language and metaphysics, and a historian of early modern philosophy.
The Latin phrases a priori and a posteriori are philosophical terms popularized by Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. However, in their Latin forms they appear in Latin translations of Euclid's Elements, of about 300 BC, a work widely considered during the early European modern period as the model for precise thinking.
Alfred Edward Taylor was a British idealist philosopher most famous for his contributions to the philosophy of idealism in his writings on metaphysics, the philosophy of religion, moral philosophy, and the scholarship of Plato. He was a fellow of the British Academy (1911) and president of the Aristotelian Society from 1928 to 1929. At Oxford he was made an honorary fellow of New College in 1931. In an age of universal upheaval and strife, he was a notable defender of Idealism in the Anglo-Saxon world.
Gerd Buchdahl was a German-English philosopher of science.
R. Jay Wallace is a Professor of Philosophy and Judy Chandler Webb Distinguished Chair for Innovative Teaching and Research at the University of California, Berkeley. His areas of specialization include moral philosophy and philosophy of action. He is most noted for his work on practical reason, moral psychology, and meta-ethics.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to metaphysics:
Donald Mackenzie MacKinnon was a Scottish philosopher and theologian.
Arindam Chakrabarti is a professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University; until 2018, he taught at the University of Hawaii, where he was the director of the EPOCH Project.
Ralph Charles Sutherland Walker is a philosopher at Magdalen College, Oxford and an expert on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.
1971 in philosophy
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