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Sydney Shoemaker

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Sydney S. Shoemaker
BornSeptember 29, 1931
DiedSeptember 3, 2022(2022-09-03) (aged 90)
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 Sharpless Shoemaker (September 29, 1931 – September 3, 2022) was an American philosopher. He was the 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

Shoemaker graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Reed College and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Cornell University in 1958[2] under the supervision of Norman Malcolm.[3] He taught philosophy at Ohio State University from 1957 to 1960 then, in 1961, returned to Cornell as a faculty member of the philosophy department. In 1978 he was appointed the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy, a position he held until his retirement, as professor emeritus of Philosophy.[4]

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

Shoemaker died on September 3, 2022, at the age of 90. He was buried in Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve in Newfield.[5]

Philosophical work

Shoemaker 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 argued 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 argued 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 defended the view that laws are metaphysically necessary, a position that follows from his view of properties as clusters of conditional causal powers. He also applied his view of properties to the problem of mental causation. He also 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 later work on the content of perception, he has argued for a distinctive version of representationalism.[6]

Selected publications



See also


  1. ^ "History of the Sage School | Sage School of Philosophy". philosophy.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2022-09-29.
  2. ^ Larry Bernard (May 6, 1996), "Three Cornell faculty members are elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences", Cornell Chronicle.
  3. ^ "History of the Sage School | Sage School of Philosophy Cornell Arts & Sciences". philosophy.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-15. Sydney Shoemaker and Carl Ginet have been working in metaphysics and epistemology at Cornell since the late 1960s and early 1970s. Both did their graduate work at Cornell – Shoemaker with Norman Malcolm and Ginet with John Rawls. Although Shoemaker studied Wittgenstein with Malcolm early on, his work reflects the realism and lack of discomfort with metaphysics that characterized analytic philosophy more generally beginning in the 1960s.
  4. ^ Greco, John (2005). "Shoemaker, Sydney Sharpless". The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199754663.001.0001. ISBN 9780199754663.
  5. ^ "Sydney Shoemaker". Ithaca Journal. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  6. ^ Thompson, Brad (2007). "Shoemaker on Phenomenal Content". Philosophical Studies. 135 (3): 307–334. doi:10.1007/s11098-005-3735-x. JSTOR 40208913. S2CID 6829580.
  7. ^ Tye, Michael (2000). "Shoemaker's The First-Person Perspective and Other Essays". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 60 (2): 461–464. doi:10.2307/2653496. ISSN 0031-8205. JSTOR 2653496 – via JSTOR.