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7 Hugely Successful Melbourne Philosophers
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7 Hugely Successful Melbourne Philosophers

Picture of Jacqueline Rose Kunnath
Updated: 26 October 2016
When we think of philosophy we think of Socrates, Aristotle, and Leonardo Da Vinci. But what about Australian philosophy? Which great minds dominate a field that deals with the essence of reality, the idea of existence? Who explores the depth of language or the idea of values and the mind? Here we salute the Australian philosophers who have given us an anodyne to the questions of reality that have a profound philosophical concern.

William Ralph Boyce Gibson

In 1911, William Ralph Boyce Gibson became the chairperson of mental and moral philosophy at the Melbourne University. He treads on the fringes between physics and philosophy, and contributed an essay – “The problem of freedom in its relation to psychology” – to the collection Personal Idealism (1902), which was popular among the philosophers of Australia. It touched upon metaphysical personality against altered adversities. Gibson went on to write the Philosophical introduction of ethics (1904) and The problem of logic (1908) along with Augusta Klein. Between 1910 and 1935, Gibson’s presence was strongly felt in Melbourne. With growing interests in continental philosophy, especially the phenomenological movement, he wrote a set of articles for the Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy (1933-35). Gibson was cremated at Surrey Hills in Melbourne on April 2, 1935.

Frank Cameron Jackson

The former director of the Research School of Social Sciences at Australian National University, Frank Cameron Jackson studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Melbourne and went on to receive his PhD in philosophy from La Trobe University. His work flourishes in subjects pertaining to the philosophy of the mind, metaphysics, epistemology, and meta-ethics. For his extended ideologies to the philosophy of the mind, Jackson is known to express his expertise for the knowledge argument against physicalism. For his contributions to philosophy and social science, Jackson was given the prestigious Order of Australia in 2006.

Peter Singer

The Australian Moral philosopher Peter Singer was born in the year 1946 and is currently a Professor at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. His most famous book, Animal Liberation (which was published in 1975), illustrates animal rights and liberation theories. This book sidesteps his usual line of work in utilitarianism, which adopts a more classical take. Singer also founded the Centre for Bioethics at Monash University.

David Armstrong

David Armstrong was born in Melbourne in 1926. He was the most prominent figure in Australian philosophy and was internationally acclaimed for his perception of metaphysics and the philosophy of the mind. He engaged in ‘the identity theory of the mind’ and also ‘Australian materialism.’ His esteemed publications, A Critical Examination of Bishop Berkeley’s ‘Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision’ (1960), A Combinatorial Theory of Possibility (1989), and A World of States of Affairs (1997) are noteworthy illustrations of his work. His repertoire was not confined to philosophy; Armstrong exercised his intellect in politics and was an active member of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom.

Mark Johnson

Dabbling in hot topics like metaphysics, metaethics, and philosophical logic, the Australian-born philosopher Mark Johnson earned his PhD. from the Princeton University in the USA. He strongly considered priestly orders before considering a PhD. Johnson’s work was publicly acclaimed; some of his philosophical works include Surviving Death and Saving God: Religion After Idolatry, the latter a New Yorker pick as one of the top non-fictional books of 2009.

John Janison Carewell

Carewell was a physicalist and a defender of utilitarianism. His 22 years of experience include his entry to La Trobe University, where he was the reader of philosophy from 1972 to 1976. Carewell’s expertise on the subject played a critical role in his appointment as an Emeritus professor at Australian National University. His interest in philosophy following his retirement led to his appointment by Monash University as Emeritus professor, as well. His contribution to the metaphysical realm of philosophy was pivotal in influencing the defense of the B-theory of time.

Barry Taylor

Barry Taylor’s effect on philosophy still laces the cognitive ideologies of philosophers to the day. His role in Australian philosophy was the epitome of research and development in the field. His consistent, utilitarian career began in Oxford in the 1970s and continued on into the Melbourne University until his retirement. Taylor’s first book, Modes of occurrence, was an expression that intimated deep understanding of the state of affairs of semantics and adverbs in natural language. His untimely death was a great loss to philosophy.