Gilbert Harman

Gilbert Harman (born 1938) is a contemporary American philosopher, teaching at Princeton University, who has published widely on ethics, epistemology, metaphysics and the philosophies of language and mind. He was educated at Swarthmore College and Harvard University, where he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy. His daughter, Elizabeth Harman, is also a philosopher and a member of the philosophy department and the center for human values at Princeton University.

Harman shares the belief of his Ph.D. advisor Willard Van Orman Quine that philosophy and science are continuous, as well as his skepticism about conceptual analysis. As a moral philosopher, he is best-known for his explanatory argument for anti-realism and for his defense of a form of ethical relativism, most recently and comprehensively in "Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity" (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), in which he debates the issue with Judith Jarvis Thomson.

According to Harman's view, if we say that A morally ought to perform some action in circumstances C we really mean that A should do so given that he has morally motivating attitudes that she shares with us. Thus the truth of moral claims will be relative to sets of motivating attitudes that are presumed to be shared when we engage in moral discussion. In some cases, however, motivating attitudes are not shared, so that someone being evaluated may be beyond the motivational reach of anything that we can say to them in opposition to their conduct. For example, Hitler's attitudes may have been so different from ours as to put him beyond the reach of any rational argument that we could ever present to him. In such extreme cases, Harman believes, we are entitled to make a judgment that we are dealing with someone who is evil but who is not necessarily making any intellectual mistake relative to his own underlying attitudes. His failure to act as we would prescribe is not based on a mistake or a cognitive deficiency.

More recently, Harman has attacked the idea that people have set characters of the sort that could ground virtue ethics. He was awarded the Jean Nicod Prize in Paris in 2005.


* "Thought" (Princeton,1973) ISBN 0-691-07188-8
* "The Nature of Morality: An Introduction to Ethics" (Oxford,1977) ISBN 0-19-502143-6
* "Change in View: Principles of Reasoning" (MIT,1986) ISBN 0-262-58091-8
* "Scepticism and the Definition of Knowledge" (Garland,1990) [This is Gilbert Harman's doctoral dissertation which was submitted to Harvard University in 1964]
* (with Judith Jarvis Thomson), "Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity" (Blackwell,1996) ISBN 0-631-19211-5
* "Reasoning, Meaning and Mind" (Clarendon,1999) ISBN 0-19-823802-9
* "Explaining Value and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy" (Clarendon,2000) ISBN 0-19-823804-5
* (with Sanjeev Kulkarni) "Reliable Reasoning: Induction and Statistical Learning Theory" (MIT Press, 2007)

* (with Donald Davidson), "Semantics of Natural Language" (D. Reidel,1972)
* "On Noam Chomsky: Critical Essays" (Anchor,1974)
* (with Donald Davidson), "The Logic of Grammar" (Dickenson,1975)
* "Conceptions of the Human Mind: Essays in Honor of George A. Miller" (Laurence Erlbaum,1993)

ee also

* List of Jean Nicod Prize laureates
* Moral skepticism

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gilbert Harman — (* 1938) ist ein US amerikanischer Philosoph. Er unterrichtet an der Princeton University und publiziert zu Themen der Ethik, Erkenntnistheorie, Metaphysik und der Philosophien der Sprache und des Geistes. Harman studierte am Swarthmore College… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Harman — bezeichnet: eine Variante des Namens Hermann einen englischen und türkischen Nachnamen einen indischen Vornamen den rumänischen Ort Hărman Harman (West Virginia), Ort in den Vereinigten Staaten eine Substanz aus der Stoffgruppe der Harman… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Harman (surname) — Family name name =Harman imagesize= caption= pronunciation = meaning = grey man region =Old English origin = related names = Harmon, Hermann, Herman footnotes =Harman is a surname deriving from the first name Harman, and dating from the late… …   Wikipedia

  • Kohärenztheorie — nennt man in der Philosophie eine Theorie, die die Kohärenz (einen Zusammenhang) mit etwas anderem zum Wesen, zum Kriterium oder – in einem schwachen Sinn – zum Indiz einer Sache macht. Der Begriff der Kohärenz (Zusammenhang) ist dabei oft vage.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Liste der Biografien/Haq–Har — Biografien: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Liste der Biografien/Har — Biografien: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sprachanalytische Philosophie — Die Sammelbezeichnung „Analytische Philosophie“ wird für bestimmte philosophische Ansätze seit Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts verwendet. Diese Ansätze stehen in einer Tradition, die zunächst hauptsächlich mit idealen Sprachen (formalen Logiken) oder …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Moral skepticism — denotes a class of metaethical theories all members of which entail that no one has any moral knowledge. Many moral skeptics also make the stronger, modal, claim that moral knowledge is impossible. Moral skepticism is particularly opposed to… …   Wikipedia

  • Liste der Philosophen — …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Analytische Philosophie — ist eine Sammelbezeichnung für bestimmte philosophische Ansätze, die seit Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts entwickelt wurden. Diese Ansätze stehen in einer Tradition, die zunächst hauptsächlich mit idealen Sprachen (formalen Logiken) oder durch… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.