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His undergraduate degree from Queen's University was in Mathematics and Philosophy, in 1966. He took an MA from Cornell University in Philosophy, in 1968, and a DPhil in philosophy from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1974. His working life before retirement was mainly as a Fellow of Balliol.
He is married to Canadian journalist Nancy Durham and is the father of Toronto defence lawyer Apple Newton-Smith and economist Rain Newton-Smith.
In 2003 Newton-Smith and Durham became the first to grow lavender on a field scale in Wales. They are now the sole distillers of lavender oil in Wales. Their company, Welsh Lavender Ltd, produces face and body creams.
Newton-Smith was previously married to the Canadian author Dorris Heffron.
- The Structure of Time (1980)
- The Rationality of Science (1981)
- Logic (1984)
- Modelling the Mind (1990) editor with K. V. Wilkes
- Popper in China (1992) editor with J. Tianji
- Chapter 1 - Popper, ciência e racionalidade. In Karl Popper: Filosofia e problemas (1997), organized by Anthony O'Hear, translated to Portuguese by Luiz Paulo Rouanet. Editora Unesp. Cambridge University Press.
- The Companion to the Philosophy of Science (2000)