Michael Dummett

Michael Dummett

Michael Dummett

Michael Dummett

Synopsis

THe debate Michael Dummett instigated on how best to prosecute issues in metaphysics via arguements in the philosophy of language remains one of the central issues in contemporary analytic philosophy and impacts on other writers such as Quine, Putnam, and Davidson. The text aims to provide a systematic exposition of Dummett's contribution to contemporary philosophy, focusing on his discussion of realism. The author also deals with the nature of meaning and understanding and discusses two challenges for the anti-realist: the past and mathematics.

Excerpt

Born in 1925, Professor Sir Michael Dummett has, since the middle 1950s, exerted a dominant influence on British philosophy and, partly through important dialogues with the likes of Quine, Goodman, Putnam and Davidson, his sway has left its considerable mark on American philosophy too. After completing his military service Dummett went to the University of Oxford as a student where his main teachers were Urmson and Anscombe, the latter exerting the greater influence. He began his professional career with a year spent lecturing at the University of Birmingham. After that he returned to Oxford where, apart from visiting appointments at some American institutions and a year spent at the University of Ghana, he has spent the balance of his career. He was appointed to the Wykeham Chair of Logic at the University of Oxford in 1979, a position that he held until his retirement in 1992. He was knighted in 1999.

His writings are voluminous and are not confined to philosophy. His philosophical writings alone run to nine substantial books and numerous papers. In addition he has also written books on voting procedures, grammar and writing style, and the game of Tarot. His enthusiasm for Tarot has spawned two books (a third is in preparation); they are, I think, a testament both to his intellectual curiosity and to his sense of responsibility towards knowledge and its preservation. His work against racism is both long-standing and passionate. It led him, among other things, to act as chairman in two unofficial committees of inquiry (one into Southall, 23 April 1979, and the other into the Blair Peach affair). Philosophers will have come to know about this aspect of Dummett’s life through the preface to the first edition of Frege: Philosophy of Language. This ends with . . .

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