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Peter Frederick Strawson
Full name Peter Frederick Strawson
Born 23 November 1919
Ealing, West London
Died 13 February 2006
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic
Main interests Philosophy of Language · Philosophy of Mind
Notable ideas Ordinary language philosophy

Sir Peter Frederick Strawson FBA (23 November 1919 – 13 February 2006) was an English philosopher. He was the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at the University of Oxford (Magdalen College) from 1968 to 1987. Before that he was appointed as a college lecturer at University College, Oxford in 1947 and became a tutorial fellow the following year until 1968. On his retirement in 1987, he returned to the college and continued working there until shortly before his death.


Life and work

Born in Ealing, West London, Peter Strawson was brought up in Finchley, Middlesex, by his parents, both of whom were teachers. He was educated at Christ's College, Finchley, followed by St John's College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.

Strawson first became well known with his article "On Referring" (1950), a criticism of Bertrand Russell's Theory of Descriptions (see also Definite descriptions). He was largely responsible for establishing metaphysics as a worthwhile direction in analytic philosophy.[citation needed]

In philosophical methodology, there are (at least) two important and interrelated features of Strawson's work that are worthy of note. The first is the project of a descriptive metaphysics, and the second is his notion of a shared conceptual scheme, composed of concepts operated in everyday life. In his book Individuals, Strawson attempts to give a description of various concepts that form an interconnected web, representing (part of) our common, shared, human conceptual scheme. In particular, he examines our conceptions of basic particulars, and how they are variously brought under general spatio-temporal concepts. What makes this a metaphysical project is that it exhibits, in fine detail, the structural features of our thought about the world, and thus precisely delimits how we, humans, think about reality.

Peter Strawson was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 1960, and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1971. He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1969 to 1970. He was knighted in 1977, for services to philosophy.

His son, Galen Strawson, is also a philosopher.

Strawson died in hospital on 13 February 2006 after a short illness.

Partial bibliography



  • Introduction to Logical Theory. London: Methuen, 1952.
  • Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics. London: Methuen, 1959.
    • Chapter 1: Bodies
    • German translation by F. Scholz (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1972)
    • French translation by A. Shalom and P. Ricoeur (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1973)
    • Italian translation by E. Bencivenga (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1978)
    • Japanese translation by N. Nakamura (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, 1978)
    • Polish translation by B. Chwedenczuk (Warsaw: Wydawniczy Pax, 1980)
    • Spanish translation by A. Suarez and L. Villanueva (Madrid: Taurus, 1989)
  • The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. London: Methuen, 1966.
    • Spanish translation by C. Luis Andre (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1975)
    • German translation by E. Lange (Hain, 1981)
    • Italian translation by M. Palumbo (Roma-Baril: Laterza, 1985)
    • Japanese translation, 1987
  • Logico-Linguistic Papers. London: Methuen, 1971
  • Freedom and Resentment and other Essays. London: Methuen, 1974
  • Subject and Predicate in Logic and Grammar. London: Methuen, 1974
  • Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
  • Analysis and Metaphysics: An Introduction to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Entity and Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.


  • "Necessary Propositions and Entailment Statements" (Mind, 1948)
  • "Truth" (Analysis, 1949)
  • "Ethical Intuitionism (Philosophy, 1949)
  • "Truth" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society suppl. vol. xxiv, 1950)
  • "On Referring" (Mind, 1950)
  • "Particular and General" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1953
  • "Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations (Mind, vol. 63, 1954)
  • "A Logician's Landscape" (Philosophy, Vol. 30, 1955)
  • "Construction and Analysis" in A.J. Ayer et al., The Revolution in Philosophy. London: Macmillan, 1956
  • "Singular Terms, Ontology and Identity" (Mind, Vol. 65, 1956)
  • "In Defence of a Dogma" with H. P. Grice (Philosophical Review, 1956)
  • "Logical Subjects and Physical Objects" (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1957)
  • "Propositions, Concepts and Logical Truths" (Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 7, 1957)
  • "Proper Names" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 31, 1957)
  • "On Justifying Induction" (Philosophical Studies, 1958)
  • "The Post-Linguistic Thaw" (Times Literary Supplement, 1960)
  • "Freedom and Resentment" (Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. 48, 1960)
  • "Singular Terms and Predication" (Journal of Philosophy, 1961)
  • "Perception and Identification" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 35, 1961)
  • "Carnap's Views on Constructed Systems v. Natural Languages in Analytical Philosophy" in The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap ed. P.A. Schlipp (La Salle Ill.: Open Court, 1963)
  • " A Problem about Truth: A reply to Mr. Warnock" in Truth, ed. G. Pitcher, Englewood Cliffs (N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1964)
  • "Truth: A Reconsideration of Austin's Views" (Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 15, 1965)
  • "Self, Mind and Body" (Common Factor, Vol. 4, 1966)
  • "Is Existence Never A Predicate" (Critica, Vol.1, 1967)
  • "Bennett on Kant's Analytic" (Philosophical Review, Vol. 77, 1968)
  • "Meaning and Truth" (Proceedings of the British Academy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969)
  • "Imagination and Perception" in Experience and Theory, ed. L. Foster and J.W. Swanson (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1970)
  • "Categories" in Ryle: A Collection of Critical essays, ed. O.P. Wood and G. Pitcher, (New York: Doubleday, 1970)
  • "The Asymmetry of Subjects and Predicates" in Language, Belief and Metaphysics, ed. H.E. Kiefer and M.K. Munitz (New York: State of University of New York Press, 1970)
  • "Self-Reference, Contradiction and Content-Parasitic Predicates" (Indian review of Philosophy, 1972)
  • "Different Conceptions of Analytical Philosophy" (Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 1973)
  • "Austin and 'Locutionary Meaning'" in Essays on J.L. Austin, ed. I Berlin (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973)
  • "On Understanding the Structure of One's Language" in Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays
  • "Positions for Quantifiers" in semantics and Philosophy, ed. M.K. Munitz and P.K. Unger (New York: New York University Press, 1974)
  • "Does Knowledge Have Foundations?" (Conocimiento y Creencia, 1974)
  • "Semantics, Logic and Ontology" (Neue Hafte fur Philosophie, 1975)
  • "Knowledge and Truth" (Indian Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 3., No. 3, 1976)
  • "Entity and Identity" in Contemporary British Philosophy Fourth Series, ed. H.D. Lewis (London: Allen and Unwin, 1976)
  • "Scruton and Wright on Anti-Realism" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 77, 1976)
  • "May Bes and Might Have Beens" in Meaning and Use, ed. A. Margalit (London: Reidel, 1979)
  • "Perception and its Objects" in Perception and Identity: Essays Presented to A.J. Ayer, ed. G.F. Macdonald (London: Macmillan, 1979)
  • "Universals" (Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 1979)
  • "Belief, Reference and Quantification" (Monist, 1980)
  • "P.F. Strawson Replies" in Philosophical Subjects Presented to P.F. Strawson, ed. Zak Van Straaten (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980)
  • "Comments and Reples" (Philosophia, Vol. 10, 1981)
  • "Logical Form and Logical Constants" in Logical Form, Predication and Ontology, ed. P.K. Sen (India: Macmillan, 1982)
  • " Liberty and Necessity" in Spinoza, His Thought & Work, ed. Nathan Rotenstreich and Norma Schneider (Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1983)
  • "Causation and Explanation" in Essays on Davidson, ed. Bruce Vermazen and J. Hintikka (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985)
  • "Direct Singular Reference: Intended Reference and Actual Reference" in Wo steht die Analytische Philosophie Heute?, 1986
  • "Reference and its Roots" in The Philosophy of W.V.Quine. ed L.E. Hahn and P.A. Schlipp (La Salle Ill.: Open Court, 1986)
  • "Kant's Paralogisms: Self Consciousness and the 'Outside Obsrver'" in Theorie de Subjektivitat, ed. K. Cramer, F. Fulda, R.-P. Hortsmann, U. Poshast (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1987)
  • "Concepts and Properties, or Predication and Copulation" (Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 37, 1987)
  • "Kant's New Foundations of Metaphysics" in Metaphysik nach Kant, ed. Dieter Henrich and R.-P. Horstmann (Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1988)
  • "Ma Philosophie: son Developpement, son Theme Central et sa Nature Generale (Revue de Theologie et de Philosophie, Vol. 120, 1988)
  • "Sensibility, Understanding and the Doctrine of Synthesis: Comments on D. Henrich and P. Guyer" in Kant's Transcendental Deductions, ed. E. Forster (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989)
  • "Two Conceptions of Philosophy" in Perspectives on Quine, ed. Robert Barrett and Roger Gibson (Oxford: Blackwell: 1990)
  • "The Incoherence of Empiricism" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 66, 1992)
  • "Comments on Some Aspects of Peter Unger's Identity, Consciousness and Value (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 42, 1992)
  • "Echoes of Kant" (Times Literary Supplement, 1992, The State of Philosophy)
  • "Replies" in Ensayos sobre Strawson, ed. Carlos E. Carosi (Montevideo: Universidad de la Republica, 1992)
  • "Knowing From Words" in Knowing From Words, ed. B.K. Matilal and A. Chakrabati (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992)
  • "My Philosophy," and "Replies" to critics in The Philosophy of P.F. Strawson, ed. P.K. Sen and R.K. Verma (New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1994)
  • "Individuals" in Philosophical Problems Today, Vol. 1, ed. G. Floistad (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994)
  • "The Problem of Realism and the A Priori" in Kant and Contemporary Epistemology, ed. Paolo Parrini (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994)
  • "Introduction," "Kant on Substance," and "Meaning and Context in Entity and Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)


  • Philosophical Subjects: Essays Presented to P.F. Strawson, ed. Zak Van Straaten (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980)
  • Leibniz and Strawson: A New Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics, Clifford Brown (Munich: Philosophia Verlag, 1990)
  • Ensayos sobre Strawson, ed. Carlos E. Carosi (Montevideo: Universidad de la Republica, 1992)
  • The Philosophy of P. F. Strawson, ed. Pranab Kumar Sen and Roop Rekha Verma (Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1995)
  • The Philosophy of P. F. Strawson, Louis Hahn, ed. (Open Court, 1998)
  • Theories of Truth, Richard Kirkham (MIT Press, 1992). (Chapter 10 contains a detailed discussion of Strawson's performative theory of truth.)
  • Strawson and Kant, ed. Hans-Johann Glock (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Sir Peter Strawson (1919–2006), Univ Newsletter, Issue 23, page 4, Hilary 2006.
  • Peter Strawson, Clifford Brown (Acumen Publishing, 2006)
  • Free Will and Reactive Attitudes: Perspectives on P.F. Strawson's 'Freedom and Resentment'. Micheal McKenna and Paul Russell, forthcoming.

External links


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