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The Antipodean Philosopher

Interviews on Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand, Volume 2

Edited by Graham Oppy; N. N. Trakakis; Lynda Burns; Steve Gardner; Fiona Leigh and Michelle Irving

In this second volume of The Antipodean Philosopher, Graham Oppy and N.N. Trakakis have brought together fourteen leading Australasian philosophers, inviting them to speak in a frank and accessible way about their philosophical lives: for example, what drew them to a career in philosophy, what philosophy means to them, and their perceptions and criticisms of the ways in which philosophy is studied and taught in Australia and New Zealand.
The philosophers interviewed include Brian Ellis, Frank Jackson, Jeff Malpas, Alan Musgrave, Philip Pettit, Graham Priest, Peter Singer and Michael Smith – philosophers who have distinguished themselves in the discipline, both nationally and internationally, over many years and in various branches of philosophy. What emerges from the discussion with these philosophers is a distinctive and engaging narrative of the history of philosophy in Australasia, its recent successes and flourishing, and the problems and prospects facing it in the twenty-first century.
These interviews will challenge and entertain anyone with an interest in contemporary philosophy and the challenges of living out the examined life today.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 282Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-6655-0 • Hardback • December 2011 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7391-6656-7 • eBook • December 2011 • $94.99 • (£65.00)
Graham Oppy is professor of Philosophy and Head of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University. He is an internationally acclaimed philosopher, whose publications include Ontological Arguments and Belief in God (1995), Arguing About Gods (2006) and Philosophical Perspectives on Infinity (2006).
N.N. Trakakis is a research fellow in the School of Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University. He specialises in the philosophy of religion, and his publications in this area include The God Beyond Belief (Springer, 2007) and The End of Philosophy of Religion (Continuum, 2008). He has also edited, with Graham Oppy, a five-volume History of Western Philosophy of Religion (Acumen, 2009).


Chapter 1: Jack Copeland

Chapter 2: Susan Dodds

Chapter 3: Brian Ellis

Chapter 4: Moira Gatens

Chapter 5: Frank Jackson

Chapter 6: Rae Langton

Chapter 7: Jeff Malpas

Chapter 8: Alan Musgrave

Chapter 9: Philip Pettit

Chapter 10: Huw Price

Chapter 11: Graham Priest

Chapter 12: Peter Singer

Chapter 13: Michael Smith

Chapter 14: Janna Thompson

About the Philosophers

This is an excellent and illuminating collection of interviews with Australasian philosophers, both born and adopted. What is philosophy and why is it a worthwhile enterprise? Why it can it become such an all-consuming passion for some people? And why have Australian and New Zealand philosophers been so conspicuously good at it? This book helps to answer these questions without making undue demands on the reader. I’ve been a participant observer in Australasian philosophy for over thirty years now, but there were some surprises even for me. I learned that the formidably self-confident Michael Smith, famed champion of moral realism, was once wracked by shyness and self-doubt (though even in his days of youthful self-doubt, the White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford would sometimes pursue him down the street in a desperate effort to get him to change his mind). And I found myself in deeply moved agreement with Phillip Pettit’s ‘republican’ ideal of the walk-tall society of which I was hitherto ignorant. It seems that in Pettit’s slightly peculiar sense of the word I have been a ‘republican‘ for twenty years without realizing it! But there is much more to be learnt both about Australasian philosophy and Australasian philosophers from this absorbing book. Read, learn and enjoy.
Charles Pigden, University of Otago

Non-philosophers are often puzzled about what philosophers do; about how and why people end up being philosophers; about why there should be philosophers at all. This is a book to put into the hands of such people. In it, fourteen philosophers, twelve from Australia and two from New Zealand, tell us just how they end up in philosophy, just why they find it exciting, and just what they see its value to be. One thing we quickly see is the variety of backgrounds from which people come: from physics, mathematics, literature, law, and from many other disciplines. Yet what is common to all those interviewed is that they wanted to ask basic questions about their discipline, questions which the discipline itself did not engage with. What the interviews strikingly establish is that in philosophy there is a unified method of enquiry which can apply to all disciplines, and which attracts minds who need to think things out for themselves. The interviews do not provide an introduction to philosophy, but they do something which is even rarer, they give an insight into just what philosophy is and just how philosophers currently working in Australasia approach it. Books which are able to do this are all too rare, and this one will, I am sure, have an appeal to all thinking people.
M. J. Cresswell, Victoria University of Wellington

These intriguing interviews with 14 prominent Australian and New Zealand philosophers trace the personal and intellectual pathways by which they reached their present philosophical destinations. We read of influences, motives, contexts and are offered reflections on the present academic and cultural scene. The book puts flesh upon the bare bones of philosophical conclusions and theories and should remind us of the truth in John Henry Newman’s view that it is the whole person that reasons and not some disembodied intellect.
Tony Coady, University of Melbourne

The stated aim of this volume – ‘to bring the diverse and significant contributions of Australasian philosophers to the attention not only of seasoned philosophers, but also to the wider academic community … and indeed members of the wider public’ – is to be commended. But while the volume does an admirable job on that score, its real value lies in the way it reveals what kind of activity philosophy is, why it is important that some people spend, and should be able to spend, their lives engaged in it; and, on a more personal level, how individual people end up living this kind of life. This volume will be of interest to a wide variety of readers, especially to anyone curious about nature of philosophy.
Australian Book Review