David Wiggins

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David Wiggins FBA (born 8 March 1933) is a British moral philosopher, metaphysician, and philosophical logician working especially on identity and issues in meta-ethics.

Life and career[edit]

David Wiggins was born in 1933 in London. He attended St Paul's School before reading philosophy at Brasenose College, Oxford where he obtained a first class degree.[1] His tutor was J. L. Ackrill.[2]

After completing his National Service, he joined the Civil Service and was appointed Assistant Principal in the Colonial Office. In 1958 he left the Civil Service and returned to Oxford. He was a lecturer and Fellow of New College, Oxford from 1959 to 1967. After that, he was appointed Chair of Philosophy at Bedford College, London, where he remained until 1980. He then returned to Oxford to take up the post of Wykeham Professor of Logic at New College and retired in 2000.[1]

Wiggins was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 1978. He was also President of the Aristotelian Society from 1999 to 2000 . He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992.

He is married to philosopher Hidé Ishiguro.


Wiggins is well known for his work in metaphysics, particularly identity (see e.g. Sameness and Substance (Oxford, 1980).

According to philosopher Harold Noonan:

The most influential part of Wiggins's work has been in metaphysics, where he has developed a fundamentally Aristotelian conception of substance, enriched by insights drawn from Putnam (1975) and Kripke (1980). His works also contain influential discussions of the problem of personal identity, which Wiggins elucidates via a conception that he calls the "Animal Attribute View."[3]

Wiggins is well known for his work in metaphysics, particularly identity (see e.g. Sameness and Substance (Oxford, 1980).

He has also made an influential contribution to ethics. His 2006 book, Ethics. Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality defends a position he calls "moral objectivism".

He has written widely on other areas including philosophy of language, epistemology, aesthetics and political philosophy.

A Festschrift, Essays for David Wiggins was published in 1996.[4]


Wiggins' distinguished pupils include:

John McDowell
Derek Parfit
Jonathan Westphal
Timothy Williamson

Selected writings[edit]


  • Continuants. Their Activity, Their Being, and Their Identity (Oxford, 2016)
  • Ethics. Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality (Cambridge, 2006)
  • Sameness and Substance Renewed (Cambridge, 2001)
  • Needs, Values, Truth: Essays in the Philosophy of Value (Oxford, 1987; second edition 1998)
  • Sameness and Substance (Oxford, 1980)
  • Truth, Invention, and the Meaning of Life (Proceedings of the British Academy, 1976)
  • Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity (Oxford, 1967)


  • "On Being in the Same Place at the same time", Philosophical Review, vol. 77, pp. 90–95.
  • "A Sensible Subjectivism?" (Needs, Values, Truth: Essays in the Philosophy of Value (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 185-214)
  • "Weakness of Will Commensurability, and the Objects of Deliberation and Desire" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1978)
  • "Towards a reasonable libertarianism" (Essays on Freedom of Action, 1973 - Routledge & Kegan Paul)
  • "On Sentence-sense, Word-sense and Difference of Word-sense: Towards a Philosophical Theory of Dictionaries" (1971)[5] (link)


  1. ^ a b Williams, S. G. (2005). "Wiggins, David (1933-)". In Brown, Stuart. Dictionary of Twentieth Century British Philosophers. Thoemmes. p. 1123. 
  2. ^ "Professor J.L. Ackrill". Obituary. London: Times Newspapers. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  3. ^ Noonan, H., 2005. "David Wiggins." In Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Macmillan. (excerpt)
  4. ^ Lovibond, Sabrina; Williams, S.G., eds. (1996). Essays for David Wiggins: Identity, Truth and Value. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  5. ^ In Danny D. Steinberg and Leon A. Jakobovits (edd.) Semantics: An Interdisciplinary Reader in Philosophy, Linguistics and Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), pp. 14-34.

External links[edit]