Derek Parfit, Global Distinguished Professor of Philosophy


Derek Parfit is a distinguished and world-renowned philosopher from Great Britain who specializes in ethics and metaphysics. Professor Parfit was born in China in 1942, and received his B.A. degree in Modern History from Oxford University in 1964. He changed his subject to Philosophy while he was a Harkness Fellow at Columbia University and Harvard University in 1965-66.

He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has also held Visiting Professorships at Harvard University, Rutgers University, Princeton University, Temple University, Rice University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Professor Parfit is one of the leading ethicists of our time. He is the author of Reasons and Persons, a monumental work that has become one of the most influential books in philosophy of the last several decades. Some of his publications are “Equality or Priority?” (University of Kansas, 1995); “Reasons and Motivation” in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume (1997); “Why Anything?  Why This?,” in The London Review of Books (22 January and 5 February, 1998); “Experiences, Subjects, and Conceptual Schemes” in Philosophical Topics (1999); and “Normativity” in Oxford Studies in Meta-Ethics, Vol 1, edited by Russ Shafer-Landau (Oxford University Press, 2006). Professor Parfit has nearly completed a book, Climbing the Mountain, which will be published by the Oxford University Press. This book will be about rationality and reasons, Kant’s ethics, contractualism, and  consequentialism. Professor Parfit’s other main activity is architectural photography, and he is preparing two books on the buildings of Venice and St. Petersburg.

Updated on 01/17/2012