Hartry Field
Born30 November 1946
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin
Harvard University
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Mathematical fictionalism
Doctoral advisorHilary Putnam
Main interests
Philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, philosophy of mind
Notable ideas
Mathematical fictionalism, epistemic rejectionism[1]

Hartry H. Field (born November 30, 1946) is an American philosopher. He is Silver Professor of Philosophy at New York University; he is a notable contributor to philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind.

Early life and education

Hartry Hamlin Field was born on November 30, 1946, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Adelaide (née Anderson) and Donald Field.[2] Field earned a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1967 and an M.A. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1968.[3] He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard in 1972 under the direction of Hilary Putnam and Richard Boyd.[4]

Academic career

He taught first at Princeton University, and then at the University of Southern California and City University of New York Graduate Center before joining the NYU faculty in 1997,[2][4] where he is currently Silver Professor of Philosophy.[5]

Field was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and is also a past winner of the Lakatos Prize in 1986.[2][6] He delivered the 2008 John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford.[3][7] In 2012, he was appointed Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Birmingham in the UK.[8]

Philosophical work

Field's first work was a commentary on Alfred Tarski's theory of truth, which he has worked on since 1972. His current view on this matter is in favor of a deflationary theory of truth. His most influential work produced in this period is probably "Theory Change and the Indeterminacy of Reference" (Journal of Philosophy, 70(14): 462–481), in which he introduced the concept of partial denotation.

In the 1980s, Field started a project in the philosophy of mathematics in support of mathematical fictionalism, the doctrine that all mathematical statements are merely useful fictions, and should not be taken to be literally true. More precisely, Field aimed to produce reconstructions of science that would remove all reference to mathematical entities, hence showing that mathematics is dispensable to science in opposition to the Quine–Putnam indispensability argument.[9]

Much of his current work is in semantic paradoxes. In 2008, he gave the John Locke Lectures, entitled "Logic, Normativity, and Rational Revisability".[10]


See also


  1. ^ The rejectionist position rejects implicit definitions that involve existential commitments—see Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, The Reason's Proper Study, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 355.
  2. ^ a b c "Field, Hartry Hamlin". Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. 2007. Gale H1000031563 – via Encyclopedia.com.
  3. ^ a b "Hartry Field". Chinese University of Hong Kong. 2012. Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  4. ^ a b Leeds, Stephen (2006). "Field, Hartry". In Borchert, David (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2nd ed.). Macmillan Publishers. pp. 633–634 – via Encyclopedia.com.
  5. ^ "Hartry Field". New York University. Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  6. ^ "1986 Lakatos Award". London School of Economics. 1987-09-15. Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  7. ^ "The John Locke Lectures". University of Oxford. Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  8. ^ "Seven new Distinguished Research Professors in Philosophy". University of Birmingham. December 21, 2012. Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  9. ^ Yablo, Stephen. "Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake?", Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72.1 (1998), p. 231.
  10. ^ John Locke Lectures. Archived 2008-10-21 at the Wayback Machine - Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford