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Anthony Quinton, Baron Quinton (born 1925) is a British political and moral philosopher, metaphysician, and materialist philosopher of mind.

He is a fellow of All Souls, became a Fellow of New College, Oxford in 1955, and was President of Trinity College, Oxford from 1978 to 1987.

He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1975 to 1976. He was Chairman of the Board of the British Library from 1985-1990.

In 1983, he was made a life peer as Baron Quinton, of Holywell in the City of Oxford and County of Oxfordshire.

To BBC Radio audiences, Anthony Quinton became well known as a presenter of the long-running Round Britain Quiz.

His Shortest Definition of Philosophy

The shortest definition, and it is quite a good one, is that philosophy is thinking about thinking. That brings out the generally second-order character of the subject, as reflective thought about particular kinds of thinking - formation of beliefs, claims to knowledge - about the world or large parts of it. -- The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, p. 666 (1st ed.)

His longer definition

Philosophy is rationally critical thinking, of a more or less systematic kind about the general nature of the world (metaphysics or theory of existence), the justification of belief (epistemology or theory of knowledge), and the conduct of life (ethics or theory of value). Each of the three elements in this list has a non-philosophical counterpart, from which it is distinguished by its explicitly rational and critical way of proceeding and by its systematic nature. Everyone has some general conception of the nature of the world in which they live and of their place in it. Metaphysics replaces the unargued assumptions embodied in such a conception with a rational and organized body of beliefs about the world as a whole. Everyone has occasion to doubt and question beliefs, their own or those of others, with more or less success and without any theory of what they are doing. Epistemology seeks by argument to make explicit the rules of correct belief formation. Everyone governs their conduct by directing it to desired or valued ends. Ethics, or moral philosophy, in its most inclusive sense, seeks to articulate, in rationally systematic form, the rules or principles involved. ibid


  • The Nature of Things, (London, 1973)
  • The Politics of Imperfection: The Religious and Secular Traditions of Conservative Thought in England from Hooker to Oakeshott
  • Utilitarian Ethics (1973)
  • From Wodehouse To Wittgenstein (1998)
  • Francis Bacon (Oxford, 1980)
  • Thoughts and Thinkers (1982)
Academic offices
Preceded by
Alexander George Ogston
President of Trinity College, Oxford
Succeeded by
John Burgh


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