Thomas Nagel

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Thinking hardly
or hardly thinking?

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The good, the bad,
and the brain fart
Come to think of it

Thomas Nagel (1937–) is an American philosopher.


Nagel received a BA in philosophy from Cornell University in 1958, a BPhil from the University of Oxford in 1960, and a PhD from Harvard University in 1963.

Philosophy of mind[edit]

Nagel is most well known for his interest and publications in philosophy of mind. He is a critic of reductionist accounts of the mind and he also opposes dualism and materialism. His best-known paper is "What is it Like to be a Bat?" which argues for an anti-reductionist theory of mind.[1] He is also known for reviving interest in panpsychism, although he never fully endorsed the position.[2]

Ethics and political philosophy[edit]

Nagel has written on ethical issues concerning a wide variety of topics, including death, war, luck, and sex.[3] He associates subjectivity with deontological ethics and objectivity with consequentialism, asserting that neither is more fundamental than the other.[4] In political philosophy, he is known as a defender of John Rawls' theory of justice.[5]

Intelligent design[edit]

In 2009, Thomas Nagel recommended Stephen Meyer's book Signature in the Cell as one of his "Best Books of the Year" in The Times Literary Supplement.[6][7] He is also the author of the book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False which was released in September, 2012.[8] His creationist fanbase is large enough for the New York Times to note.[9] However, Thomas Nagel is an atheist himself and never explicitly supported creationism.

External links[edit]


  1. Thomas Nagel. What is it like to be a bat? The Philosophical Review LXXXIII, 4 (October 1974): 435-50.
  2. Nagel, Thomas (1979). Panpsychism. In Thomas Nagel (ed.), Mortal Questions. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Thomas Nagel. (1979) Mortal Questions
  4. Thomas Nagel. The Limits of Objectivity. The Tanner Lecture on Human Values, Brasenose College, Oxford University May 4, 11, and 18, 1979
  5. The Case for Liberalism: An Exchange, Michael J. Sandel, New York Review of Books
  6. Thomas Nagel and Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell
  7. Thomas Nagel Jumps the Shark, Leiter Reports
  8. Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel