Philosophers Whose Names Match Their Specializations


Which philosophers have names that reflect what they study and write about?

That was a question posed by Kris McDaniel (Syracuse) on Facebook recently. He wasn’t after general aptonyms like philosopher John Wisdom, but rather ones whose names are well-suited to their particular areas of specialization.

He provided several great examples, which he graciously permitted me to share here:

  • Arthur Prior – philosophy of time
  • Gerald Vision – philosophy of perception
  • Jeff Speaks – philosophy of language
  • Terry Godlove – philosophy of religion
  • Edward Kanterian – Kant scholar
  • A.W. Moore – infinity
  • Philip Bricker – concrete modal realism
  • C.D. Broad – a wide range of philosophical interests

A few others mentioned in that thread include:

  • Francis Edgeworth – marginal utility (from Martin O’Neill)
  • Jonathan Way – instrumental reason, guidance (from Pekka Väyrynen and Clayton Littlejohn)
  • Craig Callender – philosophy of time (from me)

I’m sure there are others. Readers?

George de Forest Brush, “Landscape with Mt. Ascutney”

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Hilary Bok
Hilary Bok
4 years ago

John Wisdom.

Philo
Philo
Reply to  Hilary Bok
4 years ago

I guess maybe J. J. C. Smart too?

Anco
Reply to  Philo
4 years ago

I’d like to think that the work of J.J.C. Smart and U.T. Place on the identity theory of mind and brain links up rather nicely with their conjunctive names.

Clayton
4 years ago

An honourable mention for a colleague in a cognate field. Dr. McDoom (LSE) works on, “Conflict, violence, and security” and adds, “I have expertise in genocides, civil wars, and ethnic conflicts, and know a little also about insurgencies, terrorism, and guerrilla warfare.”

Avery Archer works on aims (epistemology and philosophy of action), among other things.

T
T
Reply to  Clayton
4 years ago

Too bad Archer isn’t a Zeno/time scholar.

J.
J.
Reply to  T
4 years ago

Well, he’s still a philosopher. He’s halfway there.

Carl
Carl
4 years ago

Kierkegaard (church yard): crazy Christian fideism

Robert Gressis
Robert Gressis
4 years ago

Robert Gressis; last name doesn’t mean anything, and he doesn’t do much.

Fabien-Denis Cayer
Fabien-Denis Cayer
4 years ago

Derek Brown – Colour perception

M.G. Piety
4 years ago

I’ve always thought my last name, Piety, was particularly appropriate for a Kierkegaard scholar.

Kelly Parker
Kelly Parker
4 years ago

Well, I publish in environmental philosophy … and even though it’s not exactly philosophy, I have actively advocated for traffic reduction measures such as increasing on-street parking.

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Kelly Parker
4 years ago

Are you familiar with Alissa Walker, the pedestrian advocate in Los Angeles?

http://www.awalkerinla.com/

K
K
4 years ago

(Inspired by above) Wendy Parker on climate science?

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
4 years ago

Kant- Absolute Deontology (I know; a bit controversial…)

Another Gopher
Another Gopher
4 years ago

Jonathan Anomaly- defends strange and unexpected views

Christopher A. Riddle
4 years ago

I always thought my name was apt for a philosopher of any kind: C. A. Riddle

Alex Criddle
Alex Criddle
Reply to  Christopher A. Riddle
4 years ago

Not of much relevance to the particular thread but my name is Alex Criddle! People called me A. C. Criddle or the “Criddler” and said it was fitting for a philosopher because of the Riddler in Batman apparently.
I just thought the similarity was funny.

Dale E Miller
4 years ago

Maybe this is more a counterexample than an instance, but I once heard a pertinent joke from Brad Hooker while introducing William Sin at an ethics conference…

Derek Skillings
4 years ago

I work on natural selection and it works if you say my full name fast and mash it together (maybe). My students find it funny in any case.

Bloomers
Bloomers
4 years ago

Cornel West has written loads on the social crisis in the West, and I’m fairly sure he’s even taught on it at Cornel.

Jj
Jj
4 years ago

Brian Leiter – (ladder or scale or leader): works on ranking us all a lot)

Bob Kirkman
Bob Kirkman
4 years ago

I guess I picked the wrong specialization then. I should have gone for philosophy of religion.

AB
AB
4 years ago

Elizabeth Harman – Ethics. Has done some work specifically on harm

Nick
Nick
4 years ago

John Lawless
works on freedom, political philosophy, law

Carla Fehr
Carla Fehr
4 years ago

‘Fehr’ is pronounced like ‘fair,’ which is how is feminist philosophers want things to be.

Nicolas Delon
4 years ago

Ingmar Persson — personal identity; personal and impersonal values

Jonathan Head
Jonathan Head
4 years ago

I guess I should have specialised in philosophy of mind…

Brandon Beasley
4 years ago

I guess maybe the fact that I write about teleosemantics and Millikan on bee dances sort of fits? Ha!

jj
jj
4 years ago

Too bad Kirk Ludwig is not a Wittgenstein scholar.

Kevin DeLapp
4 years ago

Didn’t a certain Justin Weinberg contribute to a volume on the philosophy of wine?

Kevin DeLapp
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

Hahaha, not YET I don’t!

Kevin DeLapp
4 years ago

Aristotle — “highest end”
Plato — “broad/wide-ranging”
Hobbes — “commoner/rustic/wild in nature” [from “hob”]

N Montaner
N Montaner
4 years ago

J.D. Trout – philosophical naturalism

Sean McAleer
Sean McAleer
4 years ago

Samantha Vice works in moral philosophy.

Chris Heathwood
Chris Heathwood
4 years ago

Jaakko Hintikka — the KK Thesis

J.R. Devonshire
J.R. Devonshire
4 years ago

Prof. Ben Decided works on determinism and free will (defending the former).

Clayton
4 years ago

Dustin Locke works on the (or a version of) Lockean view.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0020174X.2013.858421

And another honourable mention from a cognate field: Lord Brain, neurology.

Esa
Esa
4 years ago

Stephen White: phenomenal consciousness.
Ned Block: philosophy of psychology, functionalism, artificial intelligence.

Michael
Michael
4 years ago

What about Lord Brain?

EHZ
EHZ
Reply to  Michael
4 years ago

Apparently he was a neurologist. That’s a great name.

Alan White
Alan White
4 years ago

van Inwagen–for his transfer principle Beta
Godel–for restricting the scope of math proofs
Copi–for the endless homework his texts required

Joshua Blanchard
4 years ago

UNC Chapel Hill’s Ram Neta — the study of cleverly disguised mules

PhiloPuns
PhiloPuns
4 years ago

Both of my initial thoughts have already been expressed by others, but I’ll add Richard Cross – phil of religion, theology.

PhiloPuns
PhiloPuns
4 years ago

It also seems kind of relevant that someone famous for defending the value of personal property should be called Locke (i.e. “lock”) ehh? *Hides as others groan*

PhiloPuns
PhiloPuns
4 years ago

Fiery Cushman is, I guess, technically a psychologist, but does moral psych, has received philosophy awards, and works with philosophers (like L.A. Paul), so perhaps he would count? “Fiery” seems like a pretty great name for someone who studies neuroscience (neurons firing.)
Also, maybe a bit of a stretch, but Rusty Jones does ancient philosophy, and “ancient” things rust over time?

Michael Sevel
4 years ago

The former chair of my undergrad philosophy department (Southern Miss) was named Forrest Wood. He wrote a book called *The Delights and Dilemmas of Hunting*.

https://www.amazon.com/Delights-Dilemmas-Hunting-Versus-Anti-Hunting/dp/0761804722

undergrad
undergrad
4 years ago

J-P. Sartre (“tailor”): existential destiny of man

Matteo Ravasio
Matteo Ravasio
4 years ago

John Bishop (Auckland), Philosophy of Religion.

Paul Taborsky
4 years ago

George Boolos (M.I.T.), Philosophy of Logic

jj
jj
4 years ago

Plato: made important contributions to platonism
Russell: worked on paradoxes, including Russell’s paradox
Thomas Aquinas: seminal figure in Thomistic philosophy
Werner Marx: wrote an interpretation of Hegel

Ron
Ron
4 years ago

Epicurus (“helper”) – philosophy as therapy

John
John
4 years ago

Eric Katz, Animal Ethics

Charles Pigden
Charles Pigden
4 years ago

It would have to be a pretty gross speciality to relate to my surname.

Dale E Miller
4 years ago

Oh, and most of my work is on Mill.

Bradley Warfield
Bradley Warfield
4 years ago

It’s a shame I don’t specialize in military ethics or just war theory.

Ian James Kidd
4 years ago

Feyerabend means, literally, ‘the fiery time’, roughly equivalent to what the English call “knocking off time” – that relaxed, spontaneous time at the end of the day. Seems rather fitting for a famously lively “epistemic anarchist”

Kevin
Kevin
4 years ago

Elizabeth Brake wants to halt marriage.

David Storey
David Storey
4 years ago

Ted Toadvine, environmental philosophy

Paul
Paul
4 years ago

John Finnis, natural law philosopher (Oxford, Notre Dame) now most famous for his views advocating the end of legal sanctions for homosexuality, whose philosophical career may itself be finis.

Oxford Students Launch Petition to Have John Finnis “Removed”
http://dailynous.com/2019/01/08/oxford-students-launch-petition-finnis-removed