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Simon Blackburn

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Title: Simon Blackburn  
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Subject: David Hume, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Iain King, 20th-century philosophy, Morality
Collection: 1944 Births, 20Th-Century Philosophers, 21St-Century Philosophers, Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge, Analytic Philosophers, Cambridge University Moral Sciences Club, English Humanists, English Philosophers, Fellows of Pembroke College, Oxford, Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, Living People, Moral Philosophers, People Educated at Clifton College, Philosophy Academics, Presidents of the Aristotelian Society, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Faculty
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Simon Blackburn

Simon Blackburn
Simon Blackburn giving the Gottlob Frege Lectures in Theoretical Philosophy 2009 in Tartu, Estonia.
Born 12 July 1944 (age 71)
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic
Main interests
Notable ideas
Simon Blackburn's voice
Recorded March 2011 from the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time

Problems playing this file? See .

Simon Blackburn (born 12 July 1944) is a British 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 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.[1] 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[2] and a Foreign Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2008.[3]


  • Education 1
  • Work 2
  • Books 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Blackburn 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.


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.[4]

As a patron of the British Humanist Association, he has argued against the existence of God, preferring to describe himself as an "infidel" rather than an "atheist".[5] 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,[6] and has argued that religionists should have less influence in political affairs.[5] At the same time, he has also argued, in a televised debate, against the claim of "New Atheist" Sam Harris that morality can be derived from science.[7]


  • 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 defense of quasi-realism as applied to ethicsISBN 0-19-508041-6 and ISBN 0-19-508224-9.
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (1994) - compiled whole-handedly. ISBN 0-19-211694-0.
  • Ruling Passions (1998) A defense of a NeoHumean theory of reasons and moral motivation. ISBN 0-19-824785-0.
  • Truth (1999) (edited w/ 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.
    • Reprinted as Ethics: A Very Short Introduction in Oxford University Press' Very Short Introductions series. ISBN 0-19-280442-1.
  • 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.
  • "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.  
  • Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014)


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Philosophy Now's interview with Simon Blackburn, November 2013, accessible here
  6. ^ "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  7. ^

External links

  • Personal website
  • Simon Blackburn talks with Jenny Attiyeh on Thoughtcast
  • BBC News story
  • Blackburn Essay 'In defence of lust' in The New Statesman
  • Blackburn discusses Plato's Republic
  • The Marketplace of IdeasAn interview with Simon Blackburn on
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