Simon Blackburn (born 12 July 1944) is an English academic philosopher known for his work in metaethics
, where he defends quasi-realism
, and in the philosophy of language; more recently, he has gained a large general audience from his efforts to popularise philosophy. He has appeared in multiple episodes of the documentary series ''Closer to Truth
''. During his long career, he has taught at Oxford University
, Cambridge University
, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Life and career
Blackburn was born on 12 July 1944 in Chipping Sodbury
, England. He attended Clifton College
and went on to receive his bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1965 from Trinity College, Cambridge
. He obtained his doctorate in 1970 from Churchill College, Cambridge
He retired as the professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge
in 2011, but remains a distinguished research professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
, teaching every fall semester. He is also a Fellow
of Trinity College, Cambridge
, and a member of the professoriate of New College of the Humanities
. He was previously a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford
and has also taught full-time at the University of North Carolina as an Edna J. Koury Professor. He is a former president of the Aristotelian Society
, having served the 2009–2010 term. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy
in 2002 and a Foreign Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
He is a former editor of the journal ''Mind
In philosophy, he is best known as the proponent of quasi-realism
and as a defender of neo-Hume
an views on a variety of topics. "The quasi-realist is someone who endorses an anti-realist metaphysical stance but who seeks, through philosophical maneuvering, to earn the right for moral discourse to enjoy all the trappings of realist talk."
In 2008 ''The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
'', which was authored by Blackburn, was published.
In 2014 Blackburn published ''Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love'', focusing on different philosophical aspects of self-love, discussing modern forms and manifestations of pride, amour-propre, integrity or self-esteem through various philosophical frameworks and ideas.
He makes occasional appearances in the British media, such as on BBC Radio 4
's ''The Moral Maze
He is a patron of Humanists UK
(formerly the British Humanist Association), and when asked to define his atheism, he said he prefers the label ''infidel'' over ''atheist'':
He was one of 55 public figures to sign an open letter published in ''The Guardian'' in September 2010, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI
's state visit to the UK, and has argued that "religionists" should have less influence in political affairs.
At the same time, he has also argued, in a televised debate, against the position of the antitheist
author and philosopher Sam Harris
that morality can be derived from science.
*''Reason and Prediction'' (1973). .
*''Spreading the Word'' (1984) – a text. .
*''Essays in Quasi-realism
'' (1993). – a defence of quasi-realism as applied to ethicsISBN 0-19-508041-6 and .
*''The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
2015), 3rd ed. – compiled whole-handedly. .
*''Ruling Passions'' (1998) A defence of a NeoHumean theory of reasons and moral motivation. .
*''Truth'' (1999) (edited with Keith Simmons) – from Oxford Readings in Philosophy series. .
*''Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy
''. (1999) and .
*''Being Good'' (2001) – an introduction to ethics. .
** Reprinted as ''Ethics: A Very Short Introduction'' in Oxford University Press
' Very Short Introductions series. .
*''Lust'' (2004) – one of an Oxford University Press
series covering the Seven Deadly Sins
*''Truth: A Guide'' (2005). .
*''Plato's Republic: A Biography'' (2006) – from Atlantic Books' Books That Shook the World series. .
*''How to read Hume'' (2008) – Granta Publications. .
*"What do we really know? -The Big Questions of Philosophy" – (2009) from Quercus. .
*''Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love'' (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
*''On Truth'' (2018)
Personal websiteSimon Blackburn talks with Jenny Attiyeh onThoughtcast
BBC News storyBlackburn discusses Plato's RepublicAn interview with Simon Blackburn on ''The Marketplace of Ideas''Interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 21st April 2009 (video)
Category:20th-century British philosophers
Category:21st-century British philosophers
Category:Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge
Category:Cambridge University Moral Sciences Club
Category:Fellows of Pembroke College, Oxford
Category:Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Category:Fellows of the British Academy
Category:Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge
Category:People educated at Clifton College
Category:Presidents of the Aristotelian Society
Category:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty