Richard Taylor (philosopher)

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Richard Taylor
BornNovember 5, 1919
DiedOctober 30, 2003(2003-10-30) (aged 83)
Alma materBrown University (PhD)
InstitutionsBrown University, Columbia University, University of Rochester
Main interests

Richard Clyde Taylor[1] (November 5, 1919 – October 30, 2003),[2] born in Charlotte, Michigan,[3] was an American philosopher renowned for his dry wit and his contributions to metaphysics. He was also an internationally known beekeeper.


Taylor received his PhD at Brown University, where his supervisor was Roderick Chisholm. He taught at Brown University, Columbia and the University of Rochester, and had visiting appointments at about a dozen other institutions. His best-known book was Metaphysics (1963). Other works included Action and Purpose (1966), Good and Evil (1970) and Virtue Ethics (1991). Professor Taylor was also the editor of The Will to Live: Selected Writings of Arthur Schopenhauer.[4] He was an enthusiastic advocate of virtue ethics. He also wrote influential papers on the meaning of life, which, like Albert Camus, he explored through an examination of the myth of Sisyphus.

Taylor's 1962 essay "Fatalism"[5] was the subject of David Foster Wallace's undergraduate thesis at Amherst College, published in 2011 together with Taylor's essay and contemporary responses under the title Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will.[6]

Taylor made significant contributions to beekeeping. He owned three hundred hives of bees and, from 1970, produced mostly comb honey. He explained his management techniques in several books, including The Comb Honey Book and The Joys of Beekeeping.

In 1993, he debated William Lane Craig over the subject 'Is The Basis For Morality Natural or Supernatural?'.[7]

Notable philosophers who studied under Taylor as graduate students include Norman Bowie, Myles Brand, Keith Lehrer, and Peter van Inwagen.[8]


Taylor died at the age of 83 on October 30, 2003 in his home in Trumansburg, New York due to complications ensuing from lung cancer. [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shook, John R. (2005-05-15). Dictionary Of Modern American Philosophers. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 2393. ISBN 978-1-84714-470-6.
  2. ^ "Richard Taylor Remembered - Issue 44 - Philosophy Now".
  3. ^ Bee Culture Magazine, "Richard Taylor (1919-2003)", January 2004, Vol 132, No 1, p 64.
  4. ^ Anchor Books A266: 1962.
  5. ^ Philosophical Review, Vol. 71, No. 1 (1962).
  6. ^ New York: Columbia University Press (ISBN 978-0-231-15156-6)
  7. ^ "Is the Basis of Morality Natural or Supernatural? - Reasonable Faith". Archived from the original on 2012-04-13.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Holmes, Robert (2004). "Richard Taylor Remembered". Philosophy Now. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  9. ^ Holmes, Robert (2004). "Richard Taylor Remembered". Philosophy Now. Retrieved 29 March 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Donnelly, John (2007), Reflective Wisdom, Prometheus Books, ISBN 978-0-87975-522-5
  • LaScola, Russell (1992), "A Common Sense Approach to the Mind-body Problem: A Critique of Richard Taylor", Journal of Philosophical Research, 17: 279–286, doi:10.5840/jpr_1992_24

External links[edit]