Simon Blackburn FBA (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.
Blackburn at the 2017 Nobel Week Dialogue in Göteborg, Sweden
12 July 1944 |
Chipping Sodbury, England
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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 in 2008.
He has appeared in multiple episodes of the documentary series Closer to Truth.
Early life and educationEdit
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.
Life and viewsEdit
In philosophy, he is best known as the proponent of quasi-realism in meta-ethics and as a defender of neo-Humean views on a variety of topics. He is a former editor of the journal Mind. He makes occasional appearances in the British media, such as on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze. Blackburn was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.
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:
Being an infidel, that is, just having no faith, I do not have to prove anything. I have no faith in the Loch Ness Monster, but do not go about trying to prove that it does not exist, although there are certainly overwhelming arguments that it does not.
In 2008 The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, which was authored by Blackburn, was published. 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 neuroscientist Sam Harris that morality can be derived from science.
- Reason and Prediction (1973). ISBN 0-521-08742-2.
- Spreading the Word (1984) – a text. ISBN 0-19-824650-1.
- Essays in Quasi-realism (1993). – a defence of quasi-realism as applied to ethicsISBN 0-19-508041-6 and ISBN 0-19-508224-9.
- The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy ( 2015), 3rd ed. – compiled whole-handedly. ISBN 0-19-211694-0.
- Ruling Passions (1998) A defence of a NeoHumean theory of reasons and moral motivation. ISBN 0-19-824785-0.
- Truth (1999) (edited with Keith Simmons) – from Oxford Readings in Philosophy series. ISBN 0-19-875250-4.
- Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy. (1999) ISBN 0-19-210024-6 and ISBN 0-19-969087-1.
- Being Good (2001) – an introduction to ethics. ISBN 0-19-210052-1.
- Lust (2004) – one of an Oxford University Press series covering the Seven Deadly Sins. ISBN 0-19-516200-5.
- Truth: A Guide (2005). ISBN 0-19-516824-0.
- Plato's Republic: A Biography (2006) – from Atlantic Books' Books That Shook the World series. ISBN 1-84354-350-8.
- How to read Hume (2008) – Granta Publications. ISBN 978-1-84708-033-2.
- "What do we really know? -The Big Questions of Philosophy" – (2009) from Quercus. ISBN 978-1-78087-587-3.
- Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001. ISBN 978-0-19-280442-6.
- Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 January 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Cambridge academics elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences". cam.ac.uk. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
- Philosophy Now's interview with Simon Blackburn, November 2013, accessible here
- "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian. London. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- Timothy Havener (27 April 2012). "The Great Debate - Can Science Tell Us Right From Wrong? (FULL)". Retrieved 10 February 2018 – via YouTube.