The Library of Living Philosophers
Sir Michael Dummett
by Karen Green
Michael Dummett was knighted in 1999, in rather late recognition of his status as a living Oxford monument. Apart from a few years in Birmingham and Berkeley from 1950-6 and occasional visiting appointments in the USA he has spent his professional life teaching and researching in the philosophy of mathematics, logic and language at the University of Oxford. Like the tranquil walk past the Old Bodlean, along the side of Balliol and through the Botanical Gardens that one might take from All Souls College, where he was a fellow from 1950-79, to his home in Park Town, his thought exudes an unhurried richness and has depths which it takes time to fathom.
Usually he is characterized as an anti-realist who advocates the adoption of ‘intuitionistic’ logic, in which the law of excluded middle (“every statement is either true or false”) doesn’t apply. But it is more helpful to think of him as someone interested in the reasons that we might have for adopting realism or some form of anti-realism in various areas.