19 Facts About John McDowell


John McDowell taught at University College, Oxford, from 1966 until 1986, when he joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is a University Professor.


John McDowell has been a visiting professor at many universities, including Harvard University, University of Michigan, and University of California, Los Angeles.


John McDowell was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1983 and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992.


John McDowell received an honorary degree from the University of Chicago in 2008.


John McDowell's earliest published work was in ancient philosophy, most notably including a translation of and commentary on Plato's Theaetetus.


John McDowell edited and published Evans's influential posthumous book The Varieties of Reference.


John McDowell argued, against this Dummettian view and its development by such contemporaries as Crispin Wright, both that this claim did not, as Dummett supposed, represent a Wittgensteinian requirement on a theory of meaning and that it rested on a suspect asymmetry between the evidence for the expressions of mind in the speech of others and the thoughts so expressed.


The latter is an account of perceptual experience, developed at the service of John McDowell's realism, in which it is denied that the argument from illusion supports an indirect or representative theory of perception as that argument presupposes that there is a "highest common factor" shared by veridical and illusory experiences.


John McDowell strongly resists this argument: he does not deny that there is something psychologically in common between the subject who really sees the cat and the one that fails to do so.


John McDowell defends, in addition to a general externalism about the mental, a specific thesis about the understanding of demonstrative expressions as involving so-called "singular" or "Russellian" thoughts about particular objects that reflects the influence on his views of Gareth Evans.


In parallel with the development of this work on mind and language, John McDowell made significant contributions to moral philosophy, specifically meta-ethical debates over the nature of moral reasons and moral objectivity.


John McDowell developed the view that has come to be known as secondary property realism, or sensibility or moral sense theory.


John McDowell has the right concepts and the correct grasp of concepts to think about situations in which she finds herself by coming to moral beliefs.


John McDowell believes that this is the best way to capture the traditional idea that moral reasons are specially authoritative.


John McDowell rejects the Humean theory that every intentional action is the result of a combination of a belief and a desire, with the belief passively supplying a representation and the desire supplying the motivation.


John McDowell thinks that moral properties pass both of these tests.


John McDowell argues that the idea of "nonconceptual content" is philosophically unacceptable because it straddles the boundary between these two.


John McDowell has, since the publication of Mind and World, largely continued to re-iterate his distinctive positions that go against the grain of much contemporary work on language, mind and value, particularly in North America where the influence of Wittgenstein has significantly waned.


Many of the central themes in John McDowell's work have been pursued in similar ways by his Pittsburgh colleague Robert Brandom.