Allan Gibbard

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Allan Gibbard (born 1942) is the Richard B. Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Allan Gibbard has made major contributions to contemporary ethical theory, in particular metaethics, where he has developed a contemporary version of non-cognitivism. He has also published articles in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, and social choice theory.[1]


Gibbard has written three books in ethical theory: Wise Choices, Apt Feelings: A Theory of Normative Judgment (1990) develops a general theory of moral judgment and judgments of rationality. Gibbard argues that when we endorse someone's action, belief, or feeling as "rational" or warranted we are expressing acceptance of a system of norms that permits it. More narrowly, morality is about norms relating to the aptness of moral feelings (such as guilt and resentment). Thinking How to Live (2003) offers an argument for reconfiguring the distinctions between normative and descriptive discourse; Reconciling Our Aims: In Search of Bases for Ethics (2008) argues in favour of a broadly utilitarian approach to ethics.

Gibbard is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Econometric Society, and has also received Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He served as President of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association from 2001 to 2002.

Gibbard received his BA in mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1963 with minors in physics and philosophy. After teaching mathematics and physics in Ghana with the Peace Corps (1963-1965), Gibbard studied philosophy at Harvard University, participating in the seminar on social and political philosophy with John Rawls, Kenneth J. Arrow, Amartya K. Sen, and Robert Nozick. In 1971 Gibbard earned his Ph.D., writing a dissertation under the direction of John Rawls.

Soon after his doctoral degree, Gibbard provided a first proof of a conjecture that strategic voting was an intrinsic feature of non-dictatorial voting systems with at least three choices, a conjecture of Michael Dummett and Robin Farquharson. Once established, this result has been known as the Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem.[2][3][4]

He served as professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago (1969-1974), and the University of Pittsburgh (1974-1977), before joining the University of Michigan. Gibbard chaired the University of Michigan's Philosophy Department (1987-1988) and has held the title of Richard B. Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy since 1994.

In 2009, Gibbard became one of three living philosophers to be elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.[5]

Interviews with Gibbard[edit]

  • Gibbard, Allan (2009). "7 A pragmatic justification of morality". In Voorhoeve, Alex. Conversations on ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 157–178. ISBN 978-0-19-921537-9. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Allan Gibbard, "Manipulation of voting schemes: a general result", Econometrica, Vol. 41, No. 4 (1973), pp. 587–601.
  2. ^ Allan Gibbard, "Manipulation of voting schemes: a general result", Econometrica, Vol. 41, No. 4 (1973), pp. 587–601.
  3. ^ Mark A. Satterthwaite, "Strategy-proofness and Arrow's Conditions: Existence and Correspondence Theorems for Voting Procedures and Social Welfare Functions", Journal of Economic Theory 10 (April 1975), 187–217.
  4. ^ Michael Dummett Voting Procedures (Oxford, 1984)
  5. ^ Gibbard Elected to NAS Retrieved 04.29.09


External links[edit]

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