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Michael Dummett

Michael Dummett

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Sir
Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...

 Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett FBA D.Litt
Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters is a university academic degree, often a higher doctorate which is frequently awarded as an honorary degree in recognition of outstanding scholarship or other merits.-Commonwealth:...

 (born June 27, 1925) is a British
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 philosopher. He was, until 1992, Wykeham Professor
Wykeham Professor
The University of Oxford has three statutory professorships named after William of Wykeham.-Logic:The Wykeham Professorship in Logic was established in 1859, although it was not known as the Wykeham chair until later...

 of Logic at the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

. He has both written on the history of analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century...

, most notably as an interpreter of Frege
Gottlob Frege
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German mathematician, logician and philosopher. He is considered to be one of the founders of modern logic, and made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics. He is generally considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, for his writings on...

, and has made original contributions to the subject, particularly in the areas of philosophy of mathematics
Philosophy of mathematics
The philosophy of mathematics is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of mathematics. The aim of the philosophy of mathematics is to provide an account of the nature and methodology of mathematics and to understand the place of...

, philosophy of logic
Philosophy of logic
Following the developments in Formal logic with symbolic logic in the late nineteenth century and mathematical logic in the twentieth, topics traditionally treated by logic not being part of formal logic have tended to be termed either philosophy of logic or philosophical logic if no longer simply...

, philosophy of language
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. As a topic, the philosophy of language for analytic philosophers is concerned with four central problems: the nature of meaning, language use, language cognition, and the relationship between language...

 and metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

. He is especially well known for his work on truth and meaning and their implications for the debates between realism
Philosophical realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

 and anti-realism
Anti-realism
In analytic philosophy, the term anti-realism is used to describe any position involving either the denial of an objective reality of entities of a certain type or the denial that verification-transcendent statements about a type of entity are either true or false...

, a term he helped popularize. He also devised the Quota Borda system
Quota Borda system
The Quota Borda System or Quota Preference Score is a voting system that was devised by the British philosopher Michael Dummett and first published in 1984 in his book, Voting Procedures, and again in his Principles of Electoral Reform....

 of proportional voting, based on the Borda count
Borda count
The Borda count is a single-winner election method in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. The Borda count determines the winner of an election by giving each candidate a certain number of points corresponding to the position in which he or she is ranked by each voter. Once all...

, and has written scholarly works on tarot
Tarot
The tarot |trionfi]] and later as tarocchi, tarock, and others) is a pack of cards , used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play a group of card games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot...

. Other interests have been immigration law
Immigration law
Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.Immigraton law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such as citizenship...

, English grammar and usage and contemporary Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

.

Education and Army Service


Dummett was educated at Sandroyd School
Sandroyd School
Sandroyd School is an independent co-educational preparatory school for both day and boarding pupils in Rushmore Park, near the village of Tollard Royal in Wiltshire.- Introduction :...

, Winchester College
Winchester College
Winchester College is an independent school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire, the former capital of England. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years and claims the longest unbroken history of any school in England...

 and Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

. Upon graduation he was awarded a fellowship to All Souls College, Oxford
All Souls College, Oxford
The Warden and the College of the Souls of all Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford or All Souls College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England....

.

At the end of the War he served in the Intelligence Corps in India and Malaya.

Academic career


In 1979, Dummett became Wykeham Professor
Wykeham Professor
The University of Oxford has three statutory professorships named after William of Wykeham.-Logic:The Wykeham Professorship in Logic was established in 1859, although it was not known as the Wykeham chair until later...

 of Logic at Oxford, a post he held until retiring in 1992. During his term as Wykeham Professor, he held a Fellowship at New College, Oxford
New College, Oxford
New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.- Overview :The College's official name, College of St Mary, is the same as that of the older Oriel College; hence, it has been referred to as the "New College of St Mary", and is now almost always...

. He has also held teaching posts at Birmingham University, UC Berkeley, Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, and Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. He won the Rolf Schock
Schock prize
The Rolf Schock Prizes were established and endowed by bequest of philosopher and artist Rolf Schock . The prizes were first awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1993 and have been awarded every two years since...

 prize in 1995, and was knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

ed in 1999. He was the 2010 winner of the Lauener Prize for an Outstanding Oeuvre in Analytical Philosophy.

Work in philosophy


His work on the German philosopher Frege
Gottlob Frege
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German mathematician, logician and philosopher. He is considered to be one of the founders of modern logic, and made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics. He is generally considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, for his writings on...

 has been acclaimed. His first book Frege: Philosophy of Language (1973), written over many years, is now regarded as a classic. The book was instrumental in the rediscovery of Frege's work, and influenced a generation of British philosophers.

In his 1963 paper Realism he popularised a controversial approach to understanding the historical dispute between realist
Philosophical realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

 and other non-realist schools of philosophy such as idealism, nominalism, Irrealism
Irrealism (philosophy)
Irrealism is a philosophical position first advanced by Nelson Goodman in "Ways of Worldmaking", encompassing epistemology, metaphysics and aesthetics.-Nelson Goodman's irrealism:...

 etc. He characterized all of these latter positions as anti-realist
Anti-realism
In analytic philosophy, the term anti-realism is used to describe any position involving either the denial of an objective reality of entities of a certain type or the denial that verification-transcendent statements about a type of entity are either true or false...

 and argued that the fundamental disagreement between realist and anti-realist was over the nature of truth. For Dummett, realism is best understood as accepting the classical characterisation of truth as bivalent and evidence-transcendent, while anti-realism rejects this in favor of a concept of knowable truth. Historically, these debates had been understood as disagreements about whether a certain type of entity objectively exists or not. Thus, we may speak of (anti-)realism with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought. The novelty of Dummett's approach consisted in seeing these disputes as, at base, analogous to the dispute between intuitionism and platonism
Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

 in the philosophy of mathematics
Philosophy of mathematics
The philosophy of mathematics is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of mathematics. The aim of the philosophy of mathematics is to provide an account of the nature and methodology of mathematics and to understand the place of...

.

It is now common, thanks to Dummett's influence, to speak of a post-Dummettian generation of English philosophers, including such figures as John McDowell, Christopher Peacocke, and Crispin Wright—though only Wright has been fairly close to Dummett on substantive philosophical questions.

Activism


Dummett has been politically active, through his work as a campaigner against racism. He let his philosophical career stall in order to influence civil rights for minorities during what he saw as a crucial period of reform in the late 1960s. He also has worked on the theory of voting, which led to his introduction of the Quota Borda system
Quota Borda system
The Quota Borda System or Quota Preference Score is a voting system that was devised by the British philosopher Michael Dummett and first published in 1984 in his book, Voting Procedures, and again in his Principles of Electoral Reform....

.

Dummett drew heavily on his work in this area in writing his book On Immigration and Refugees, an account of what justice demands of states in relationship to movement between states. Dummett in that book argues that the vast majority of opposition to immigration is founded in racism and says that this has especially been so in the UK.

He has written of his shock on finding anti-Semitic and fascist opinions in the diaries of Frege, to whose work he had devoted such a high proportion of his professional career.

Elections and voting



Dummett and Robin Farquharson
Robin Farquharson
Reginald "Robin" Farquharson was an academic whose interest in mathematics and politics led him to work on game theory, which he wrote an influential analysis of voting systems in his doctoral thesis, later published as Theory of Voting.Farquharson diagnosed himself as suffering from bipolar...

 published influential articles on the theory of voting, in particular conjecturing that deterministic voting rules with more than three issues faced endemic strategic voting. The Dummett-Farquharson conjecture was proved by Allan Gibbard
Allan Gibbard
Allan Gibbard is the Richard B. Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Allan Gibbard has made several contributions to contemporary ethical theory, in particular metaethics...

, a philosopher and former student of Kenneth J. Arrow and John Rawls
John Rawls
John Bordley Rawls was an American philosopher and a leading figure in moral and political philosophy. He held the James Bryant Conant University Professorship at Harvard University....

, and by Mark A. Satterthwaite, an economist.

After the establishment of the Farquarson-Dummett conjecture by Gibbard and Sattherthwaite, Dummett contributed three proofs of the Gibbard–Satterthwaite theorem in his monograph on voting.

Dummett has also written a shorter overview of the theory of voting for the educated public.

Card games and tarot


Sir Michael Dummett is also an established scholar in the field of card games history, with numerous books and articles to his credit. He is a founding member of the International Playing-Card Society
International Playing-Card Society
The International Playing-Card Society is a non-profitorganisation for those interested in playing cards, theirdesign, and their history...

, in whose journal The Playing-Card
The Playing-Card
The Playing-Card is a quarterly publication, publishing scholarly articles covering all aspects of playing cards and of the games played with them, produced by the International Playing-Card Society....

he regularly publishes opinions, research and reviews of current literature on the subject; he is also a founding member of the Accademia del Tarocchino Bolognese in Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

. His historical work on the use of the tarot pack in card games - he has said "(t)he fortune telling and occult part of it has never been my principal interest..." - The Game of Tarot: From Ferrara to Salt Lake City, attempted to establish that the invention of Tarot could be set in 15th-century Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. He laid the foundation for most of the subsequent research on the game of tarot, including exhaustive accounts of the rules of all hitherto known forms of the game.

Dummett's analysis of the historical evidence suggested that fortune-telling and occult interpretations were unknown prior to the 18th century. During most of their recorded history, he wrote, Tarot cards were used to play an extremely popular trick-taking game which is still enjoyed in much of Europe. Dummett showed that the middle of the 18th century saw a great development in the game of Tarot, including a modernized deck with French suit-signs, and without the medieval allegories that interest occultists, along with a growth in Tarot's popularity. "The hundred years between about 1730 and 1830 were the heyday of the game of Tarot; it was played not only in northern Italy, eastern France, Switzerland, Germany and Austro-Hungary, but also in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and even Russia. Not only was it, in these areas, a famous game with many devotees: it was also, during that period, more truly an international game than it had ever been before or than it has ever been since...."

Catholicism


In 1944 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and remains a practising Catholic. Throughout his career, Dummett has published a number of articles on various issues facing the contemporary Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, mainly in the English Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 journal New Blackfriars. Dummett has also published an essay in the bulletin of the Adoremus society on the subject of liturgy, and a philosophical essay defending the intelligibility of the Catholic Church's teaching on the eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 ("The Intelligibility of Eucharistic Doctrine" in William J. Abraham and Steven W. Holzer, eds., The Rationality of Religious Belief: Essays in Honour of Basil Mitchell, Clarendon Press, 1987.)

In October 1987, one of his contributions to New Blackfriars sparked considerable controversy, when he attacked currents of Catholic theology that diverged from traditional orthodox Catholicism and argued that "the divergence which now obtains between what the Catholic Church purports to believe and what large or important sections of it in fact believe ought, in my view, to be tolerated no longer." A debate in the journal over these remarks continued for months, attracting contributions from the theologian Nicholas Lash and the historian Eamon Duffy
Eamon Duffy
Eamon Duffy is an Irish Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge, and former President of Magdalene College....

, among others.

Works

  • On analytical philosophy and logic:
    • The Interpretation of Frege's Philosophy, Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

    • Frege: Philosophy of Language (Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

      , 1973/1981)
    • Elements of Intuitionism (Oxford, 1977, 2000)
    • Truth and Other Enigmas (Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

      , 1978)
    • Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics (Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

      , 1991)
    • The Logical Basis of Metaphysics (Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

      , 1991)
    • Origins of Analytical Philosophy (Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press
      Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

      , 1993)
    • The Seas of Language (Oxford, 1993)
    • Truth and the Past (Oxford, 2005)
    • Thought and Reality (Oxford, 2006)
  • On voting theory and election systems:
    • Voting Procedures (Oxford, 1984)
    • Principles of Electoral Reform (New York, 1997) ISBN 0-19-829246-5
              • On politics:
                • On Immigration and Refugees (London, 2001)
              • Tarot works:
                • The Game of Tarot: from Ferrara to Salt Lake City (Duckworth, 1980);
                • Twelve Tarot Games (Duckworth, 1980);
                • The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards (G. Braziller, 1986);
                • Il mondo e l'angelo: i tarocchi e la loro storia (Bibliopolis, 1993)
                • I tarocchi siciliani (La Zisa, 1995);
                • A Wicked Pack of Cards: The Origins of the Occult Tarot (with Ronald Decker and Thierry Depaulis, St. Martin's Press, 1996;
                • A History of the Occult Tarot, 1870-1970 (with Ronald Decker, Duckworth, 2002);
                • A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack (with John McLeod, E. Mellen Press, 2004).


              Notable articles and exhibition catalogs include "Tarot Triumphant: Tracing the Tarot" in FMR, (Franco Maria Ricci International), January/February 1985; Pattern Sheets published by the International Playing Card Society; with Giordano Berti
              Giordano Berti
              Giordano Berti is an Italian writer and teacher of History of Arts. Born in Bologna, he grew up in Monghidoro, a town of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines...

               and Andrea Vitali, the catalogue Tarocchi: Gioco e magia alla Corte degli Estensi (Bologna, Nuova Alfa Editorale, 1987).

              See also

              • Is logic empirical?
                Is logic empirical?
                "Is logic empirical?" is the title of two articles that discuss the idea that the algebraic properties of logic may, or should, be empirically determined; in particular, they deal with the question of whether empirical facts about quantum phenomena may provide grounds for revising classical logic...

                 which discusses an article by Dummett on an argument of Hilary Putnam
                Hilary Putnam
                Hilary Whitehall Putnam is an American philosopher, mathematician and computer scientist, who has been a central figure in analytic philosophy since the 1960s, especially in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of science...

                 for the correctness of quantum logic
                Quantum logic
                In quantum mechanics, quantum logic is a set of rules for reasoning about propositions which takes the principles of quantum theory into account...

              • Truth-value link realism, which Dummett criticized in early works

              Further reading

              • Johannes L Brandl, Peter Sullivan (eds.) New Essays on the Philosophy of Michael Dummett. Rodopi, 1999. ISBN 9042004665
              • Richard Kirkham. Theories of Truth. MIT Press, 1992. Chapter 8 is a discussion of Dummett's views on meaning.
              • Karen Green. Dummett: Philosophy of Language. Polity, 2001. ISBN 0-7456-2295-X
              • Richard G. Heck (ed.) Language, Thought, and Logic: Essays in Honour of Michael Dummett. Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-823920-3
              • Bernhard Weiss. Michael Dummett. Princeton University Press, 2002.ISBN 0-691-11330-0
              • Anat Matar. From Dummett's Philosophical Perspective, Walter de Gruyter, 1997.ISBN 3110149869
              • R. E. Auxier and L. E. Hahn (eds.) The Philosophy of Michael Dummett, The Library of Living Philosophers, vol XXXI Open Court, Chicago, 2007.

              External links