Alan Baker (philosopher)

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For other people of the same name, see Alan Baker.

Alan R. Baker is a professor of Philosophy in Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania, USA), specializing in the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of science. He is also a former U.S. shogi champion and created the only active shogi club at an American university.

Academic career[edit]

Baker did his undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge, earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy with first class honours in 1991. He then moved to the U.S. for graduate school, earning a master's degree in 1995 and a Ph.D. in 1999, both in philosophy from Princeton University. His doctoral supervisors were Paul Benacerraf and Gideon Rosen. After working as an assistant professor at Xavier University, he moved to Swarthmore in 2003.[1][2]

Philosophically, Baker is a mathematical realist who has used examples from evolutionary biology to show the necessity of mathematics in scientific reasoning.[3]

In 2005 the New York Times published an excerpt from the exam from his “Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology” course in its “pop quiz” column.[4][5]


Alan Baker has played shogi since 1996 and holds 29th place on the FESA list as of June 1, 2014.[6] His highest place on the FESA list was 19th, on January 1, 2009.

In 2005 he founded a shogi club at Swarthmore College, outside Philadelphia, which is the only active college-based shogi club in the U.S.[7]

Tournament results:

  • 2008: Champion of the 13th U.S. Shogi championship.[7]
  • 2008: 3rd place at individual tournament of 4th International Shogi Forum (Tendō).[8]
  • 2009: 2nd place at British Open Shogi Championship.[9]
  • 2014: 1st place at group B of individual tournament of 6th International Shogi Forum (Shizuoka)[10]


  1. ^ Curriculum vitae (October 2012), retrieved 2014-04-08.
  2. ^ Alan R. Baker at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Bangu, Sorin Ioan (2008), "Inference to the Best Explanation and Mathematical Realism", Synthese 160 (1): 13–20, doi:10.1007/s11229-006-9070-8 .
  4. ^ Alan Baker (2005-11-06). "Pop Quiz: I Think, Therefore I Pass". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2014-03-28. 
  5. ^ Alan Baker (2005-11-06). "Quiz answers". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  6. ^ FESA list for 1 jun 2014
  7. ^ a b Shogi and me, Swarthmore College Feature Stories Archive, May 14, 2008 .
  8. ^ 4th International Shogi Forum(Russian)
  9. ^ Alan Baker: FESA profile
  10. ^ 6th International Shogi Forum, Shizuoka