Sydney Shoemaker


Sydney Sharpless 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. His son, David Shoemaker, is also a Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University [1], specialising in philosophy of mind and ethics.

Sydney S. Shoemaker
Born (1931-09-29) 29 September 1931 (age 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

Education and career

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

Among his students at Cornell were Richard Moran,[5] Susanna Siegel,[6] and John Perry.[citation needed]

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

Philosophical work

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.[7]


See also


  1. ^ "Tree – David Chalmers". Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  2. ^ a b Greco, John (2005). "Shoemaker, Sydney Sharpless". The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199754663.001.0001. ISBN 9780199754663.
  3. ^ Larry Bernard (May 6, 1996), "Three Cornell faculty members are elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences", Cornell Chronicle.
  4. ^ "History of the Sage School | Sage School of Philosophy Cornell Arts & Sciences". 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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Moran, Richard; Marshall, Richard. "Keeping Sartre, and other passions". 3:16. Retrieved 2021-06-02. When I began to work on self-knowledge in graduate school with Sydney Shoemaker,...{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Doctoral Dissertations 1999-2000". The Review of Metaphysics. 54 (1): 216. 2000. JSTOR 20131526.
  7. ^ Thompson, Brad (2007). "Shoemaker on Phenomenal Content". Philosophical Studies. 135 (3): 307–334. doi:10.1007/s11098-005-3735-x. JSTOR 40208913. S2CID 6829580.

External links

  • Links to some of Shoemaker's papers online