Isaac Levi

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Isaac Levi
BornJune 30, 1930
DiedDecember 25, 2018, aged 88 years
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Pragmatism, epistemology, decision theory, philosophy of science
Notable ideas
Commitment/performance distinction, corrigibilism/fallibilism distinction, indeterminate probability, Levi identity, unity of reason thesis

Isaac Levi (June 30, 1930 – December 25, 2018) was an American philosopher who served as the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. He is noted for his work in epistemology and decision theory.[1][2][3][4]

Education and career[edit]

Levi was one of several doctoral students of Ernest Nagel at Columbia University who were influential in American post-war philosophy; others were Morton White, Patrick Suppes, and Henry E. Kyburg, Jr. Levi taught at Case Western Reserve University before joining the Columbia faculty in 1970.[5] He was elected in 1986 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Levi also served as doctoral advisor to prominent formal philosophers, including Horacio Arló-Costa and Teddy Seidenfeld, and acted as a mentor to Cheryl Misak during her year at Columbia.[6] There was a debate between Kyburg and Levi on topics in what has come to be known as formal epistemology.

Philosophical work[edit]

Levi first made a name for himself with his first book, Gambling with Truth. In the text Levi offered a decision theoretic reconstruction of epistemology with a close-eye towards the classical pragmatist philosophers like William James and Charles Sanders Peirce. Levi was known for his work in belief revision and imprecise probability.

Major publications[edit]


  • Levi, Isaac (1973) [1967]. Gambling with truth: an essay on induction and the aims of science. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262620260. Originally issued by Knopf (1967).
  • Levi, Isaac (1980). The enterprise of knowledge: an essay on knowledge, credal probability, and chance. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262620437.
  • Levi, Isaac (1984). Decisions and revisions: philosophical essays on knowledge and value. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521027625.
  • Levi, Isaac (1986). Hard choices: decision making under unresolved conflict. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521386302.
  • Levi, Isaac (1991). The fixation of belief and its undoing: changing beliefs through inquiry. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521110297.
  • Levi, Isaac (1996). For the sake of the argument: Ramsey Test conditionals, inductive inference and nonmonotonic reasoning. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521039017.
  • Levi, Isaac (1997). The covenant of reason: rationality and the commitments of thought. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139173032.

Chapters in books[edit]

  • Levi, Isaac (2009), "Convexity and separability in representing consensus", in Kanbur, Ravi; Basu, Kaushik (eds.), Arguments for a better world: essays in honor of Amartya Sen | Volume I: Ethics, welfare, and measurement, Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 193–212, ISBN 9780199239115.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Levi, Isaac, 1930-". Library of Congress. Retrieved October 3, 2014. (Isaac Levi, Columbia University) data sheet (b. 06-30-1930)
  2. ^ "Faculty Bio – Isaac Levi". Columbia University. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  3. ^ Seidenfeld, Teddy (June 29, 2019). "A Retrospective on Isaac Levi: June 30, 1930 – December 25, 2018" (PDF). International Symposium on Imprecise Probabilities: Theories and Applications: 346–353.
  4. ^ Shook, John R. (May 15, 2005). "LEVI, Isaac (1930– )". Dictionary Of Modern American Philosophers. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781847144706.
  5. ^ "Professor Isaac Levi (1930-2018)". Department of Philosophy, Columbia University. Archived from the original on September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Talking to Thinkers with Cheryl Misak - December 2021., retrieved September 23, 2022