Sydney Shoemaker

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Sydney Shoemaker
Born29 September 1931
Alma materReed College
Cornell University
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of mind, metaphysics

Sydney Shoemaker (born 29 September 1931[1]) 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 under the supervision of Norman Malcolm. He taught for almost his entire career at Cornell University.

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

Among his many successful students were John Perry, Richard Moran, and Susanna Siegel.

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 internalist representationalism.


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


  1. ^ "Shoemaker, Sydney Sharpless - Oxford Reference". doi:10.1093/acref/9780199754663.001.0001/acref-9780199754663-e-878. Retrieved 2018-09-29.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]