Sydney Shoemaker

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Sydney S. Shoemaker
Born (1931-09-29) 29 September 1931 (age 89)
EducationReed College
Cornell University (Ph.D., 1958)
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
InstitutionsCornell University
Doctoral advisorNorman Malcolm[1]
Main interests
Philosophy of mind, metaphysics
Notable ideas
Immunity to error through misidentification

Sydney S. Shoemaker (born 29 September 1931)[2] is an American philosopher. He is the Emeritus Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University and is well known for his contributions to philosophy of mind and metaphysics.

Education and career[edit]

Shoemaker graduated with a BA from Reed College and earned his PhD from Cornell University in 1958[3] under the supervision of Norman Malcolm. He taught for almost his entire career at Cornell University. Among his students there were Richard Moran, John Perry and Susanna Siegel.

In 1971, he delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford University.

Philosophical work[edit]

Shoemaker has worked primarily in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics, and published many classic papers in both of these areas (as well as their overlap). In "Functionalism and Qualia" (1975), for example, he argues that functionalism about mental states can account for the qualitative character (or 'raw feel') of mental states. In "Self-Reference and Self-Awareness" (1968), he argues that the phenomenon of absolute 'immunity to error through misidentification' is what distinguishes self-attributions of mental states (such as "I see a canary") from self-attributions of physical states (such as "I weigh 200 pounds").

In metaphysics, he has defended the view that laws are metaphysically necessary, a position that follows from his view of properties as clusters of conditional causal powers. He has also applied his view of properties to the problem of mental causation. He also has distinguished contributions to the literature on self-knowledge and personal identity, where he defended a Lockean psychological continuity theory in his influential paper "Persons and their Pasts". In his recent work on the content of perception, he has argued for a distinctive version of representationalism.[4]


  • Self-Knowledge and Self-Identity (1963).
  • Personal Identity (co-authored with Richard Swinburne) (1984).
  • Identity, Cause and Mind: Philosophical Essays (1984).
  • The First-Person Perspective, and other Essays (1996).
  • Physical Realization (2007).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tree – David Chalmers". Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  2. ^ "Shoemaker, Sydney Sharpless - Oxford Reference". 2005. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199754663.001.0001. ISBN 9780199754663. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  3. ^ Larry Bernard (May 6, 1996), "Three Cornell faculty members are elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences", Cornell Chronicle.
  4. ^ Brad J. Thompson, "Shoemaker on Phenomenal Content", Philosophical Studies 135, pp. 307–334 (2007).

External links[edit]