Hartry Field


Hartry H. Field (born November 30, 1946)[2] is an American philosopher. He is Silver Professor of Philosophy at New York University; he is a notable contributor to philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind.

Hartry Field
Born30 November 1946
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin
Harvard University
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Mathematical fictionalism
Doctoral advisorHilary Putnam
Main interests
Philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, philosophy of mind
Notable ideas
Mathematical fictionalism, epistemic rejectionism[1]

Field is also Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham, UK.[3]

Education and careerEdit

Field earned a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin in 1967 and an M.A. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1968.[4] He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard in 1972 under the direction of Hilary Putnam. He taught first at Princeton University, and then at the University of Southern California and City University of New York Graduate Center before joining the NYU faculty.[5]

Field was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003[6] and is also a past winner of the Lakatos Prize in 1986.[7]

Philosophical workEdit

Field's first work was a commentary on Alfred Tarski's theory of truth, which he has worked on since 1972. His current view on this matter is in favor of a deflationary theory of truth. His most influential work produced in this period is probably "Theory Change and the Indeterminacy of Reference" (Journal of Philosophy, 70(14): 462–481), in which he introduced the concept of partial denotation.

In the 1980s, Field started a project in the philosophy of mathematics discussing mathematical fictionalism, the doctrine that all mathematical statements are merely useful fictions, and should not be taken to be literally true. More precisely, Field holds that the existence of sets may be denied, in opposition to Quine–Putnam indispensability argument of Quine and Putnam.[8]

Much of his current work is in semantic paradoxes. In 2008, he gave the John Locke Lectures, entitled "Logic, Normativity, and Rational Revisability."[9]


  • Science Without Numbers, Blackwell, 1980
  • Realism, Mathematics and Modality, Blackwell, 1989
  • Truth and the Absence of Fact, Oxford University Press 2001
  • Saving Truth from Paradox, Oxford University Press, 2008

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The rejectionist position rejects implicit definitions that involve existential commitments—see Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, The Reason's Proper Study, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 355.
  2. ^ "Dictionary definition of Field, Hartry H(amlin) 1946- | Encyclopedia.com: FREE online dictionary". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  3. ^ Professor Hartry Field - Department of Philosophy - University of Birmingham
  4. ^ Field, Hartry – New York University
  5. ^ CV - February 2004
  6. ^ "Dictionary definition of Field, Hartry | Encyclopedia.com: FREE online dictionary". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  7. ^ 1986 Lakatos Award
  8. ^ Yablo, Stephen. "Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake?", Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72.1 (1998), p. 231.
  9. ^ John Locke Lectures. Archived 2008-10-21 at the Wayback Machine - Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford

External linksEdit

  • Field, Hartry – New York University