Herbert Fingarette

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Herbert Fingarette (20 January 1921 – 2 November 2018)[1] was an American philosopher and emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[2] He received his PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles under the direction of Donald Piatt.[3]

Fingarette's work deals with issues in philosophy of mind, psychology, ethics, law, and Chinese philosophy.[4]

Life and career[edit]

In his 1969 monograph Self-Deception, Fingarette presents an account of the titular concept influenced by the work of Jean-Paul Sartre,[5] Sören Kierkegaard and Sigmund Freud, as well as contemporary work in physiology and analytic philosophy. Fingarette argues that traditional accounts of self-deception fall invariably into paradox because these accounts see self-deception in terms of perception or knowledge. Such paradoxes may be resolved, Fingarette claims, by re-framing self-deception as a problem of volition and action. On these new terms, he defines self-deception as an agent's persistent refusal to "spell out" (explicitly acknowledge) and to avow some aspect of his engagement in the world.[6]

Fingarette's 1972 monograph Confucius: The Secular As Sacred was described in a peer-reviewed academic journal as "one of the most significant philosophical books on the subject to be published in a long time."[7]

Fingarette also influentially applied his work in moral psychology to pressing social and legal issues, particularly those surrounding addiction. In his 1988 book Heavy Drinking, Fingarette gainsays the disease theory of alcoholism popularized by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Fingarette's arguments were famously employed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1988 decision to deny VA educational benefits to two alcoholic American veterans.[8][9]


  1. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/obituaries/herbert-fingarette-dead.html
  2. ^ "Department of Philosophy - People". University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Herbert Fingarette". Philosophy Family Tree. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  4. ^ "Philosophy Faculty". University of California - Santa Barbara. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  5. ^ Hirsch, Julie. "Ethics and Self-Deception". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  6. ^ Fingarette, Herbert (2000). Self-Deception. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 34, 46. ISBN 0520220528.
  7. ^ Rosemont Jr., Henry; Fingarette, Herbert (October 1976). "Review: Confucius--The Secular as Sacred by Herbert Fingarette". Philosophy East and West. 26 (4): 463–477. doi:10.2307/1398287. JSTOR 1398287.
  8. ^ Beyette, Beverly. "Alcoholism: Is It Really a Disease? : Controversial Author Contends Drinking Is Modifiable Behavior". LA Times. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  9. ^ Peele, Stanton. "Herbert Fingarette, Radical Revisionist Why Are People So Upset With This Retiring Philosopher?". Retrieved 23 October 2012.

External links[edit]

  1. Being 97 (Aeon video of Herbert Fingarette pondering "the meaning of it all" in 2018, the year of his death)