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Professor John Divers

Professor of Moral Philosophy (1837) (Philosophy)


I am a "first generation" university entrant and took my degrees (MA Mental Philosophy 1982, PhD Philosophy 1990) in my home town at the University of Glasgow. Like many philosophers I began with the intention of studying mathematics and did so for two years. I jointed the TCD Philosophy Department in June 2021, having previously been Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield and (more recently) at the University of Leeds I am currently an Editor of the journal Thought: a Journal of Philosophy (Wiley Blackwell) and a past President of the Mind Association.
 Thinking Counterfactually

John Divers, Possible Worlds, 1st, London, England, Routledge, 2002, 1 - 384pp, Book, PUBLISHED  URL


From my undergraduate dissertation onwards, my research has focused on matters of modality: what might be, what would have been, what must be and what cannot be. I take an anti-realistic view of modality. The world "in itself" is not modal, but our modal judgments help us make our way in that non-modal world. This modal anti-realism originates in Hume, and my recent work is about recovering and taking forward the version of it that was constructed, in the late 20th century, by Quine. My work on modality invokes the full range of sub-disciplines of theoretical philosophy: metaphysics; epistemology; logic and the philosophies of language, of mind and of science. I am keenly interested in debates between realists and anti-realists in fields beyond modality - tentatively favouring anti-realism in the case of values (moral and otherwise) but realism in the case of mathematics.