Sir Michael A. E. Dummett (1925 - ) is a leading British philosopher, who has both written on the history of analytic philosophy, and made original contributions to the subject, particularly in the areas of philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of logic, philosophy of language and metaphysics. He devised the Quota Borda system of proportional voting, based on the Borda count.
Dummett was born in 1925. In 1944 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, and remains a practising Catholic. He studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, and was awarded a fellowship at All Souls College. In 1979, he became Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford, a post he held until retiring in 1992. He received a Knighthood in 1999.
His work on the German philosopher Frege has also been acclaimed. His first book Frege: Philosophy of Language (1973), written over many years, is now regarded as a classic. The book was instrumental in the rediscovery of Frege's work, and influenced a whole generation of British philosophers, including Gareth Evans.
In his paper Realism he popularised the term anti-realism, used to describe any position involving either the denial of the objective reality of entities of a certain type or the insistence that we should be agnostic about their real existence. Thus, we may speak of anti-realism with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought.
The novelty of Dummett's approach consisted in seeing these disputes as analogous to the dispute between intuitionism and platonism in the philosophy of mathematics.
Dummett has been politically active, both as an anti-racist campaigner, who let his philosophical career stall in order to influence civil rights for minorities during what he saw as a crucial period of reform in the late 1960s; and he has done work on the theory of voting with his introduction of the Quota Borda system. He is also a historian of the Tarot, who has argued that the medieval use of the Tarot was as a set of playing cards, and only acquired its association with the occult in the 18th century.
- Frege: Philosophy of Language (London 1973, 1981)
- Elements of Intuitionism (Oxford 1977, 2000)
- Truth and Other Enigmas (London 1978)
- Voting Procedures (Oxford 1984)
- Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics (London 1991)
- The Logical Basis of Metaphysics (London 1991)
- Origins of Analytical Philosophy (London 1993)
- The Seas of Language (Oxford 1993)
- Principles of Electoral Reform (New York 1997)
Richard Kirkham, Theories of Truth, MIT Press: 1992. Chapter 8 is a discussion of Dummett's views on meaning.