The 50 Most Influential Living Philosophers

Intriguing list of the “50 most influential living philosophers” at

Brian Leiter doesn’t much care for it, but this list seems to me reasonably balanced in offering representatives of, e.g., both Christian and atheist perspectives, Continental versus analytic philosophers, as well as a wide variety of others. Feminists can’t claim not to be represented, as there are at least two (Judith Butler, Judith Jarvis Thomson). There are a few names I would have left off (Cornel West who is clearly far more a political activist than a philosopher).

And a few glaring omissions, such as Alvin Plantinga who I’d thought was one of the leading Christian analytic philosophers of religion in the country, Harry G. Frankfurt who actually published something relevant with On Bullshit (2005) and has done other useful work as well, and Colin McGinn of “New Mysterian” fame, although he might have been excluded for political reasons, e.g., the accusation of sexual harassment at the University of Miami from which he resigned in 2013.  Doubtless I’d think of a few others who should be on this list but aren’t, if I put my mind to it. The list, as it says, is a list of those who are influential, not necessarily those who are the best, and as Leiter observes, we don’t know what methodology was used to generate this list.

Most, I note, are elderly; many, also unsurprisingly, are not Americans. Not an absolutely wretched list, given a field very much “in the doldrums” (Harry Frankfurt’s apt description).

About Steven Yates

I have a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Georgia and teach Critical Thinking (mostly in English) at Universidad Nacionale Andrés Bello in Santiago, Chile. I moved here in 2012 from South Carolina. My most recent book is entitled Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic (2011). I am the author of an earlier book, around two dozen articles & reviews, & still more articles on commentary sites on the Web. I live in Santiago with my wife Gisela & two spoiled cats, Bo & Princesa.
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2 Responses to The 50 Most Influential Living Philosophers

  1. lecox says:

    I have listened to Noam Chomsky (technically, a linguist) and heard of Cornell West.
    The others I don’t recognize.
    So…who are these people influencing? They are certainly not influencing me directly. Perhaps that was never the way it was supposed to work…

  2. Stacia Leech says:

    I’m wondering why Ken Wilber did not make this list – I think a case could be made for his ‘influence’ given that there are many schools of Integral thought and practice. And I believe that he is the only living philosopher to have his collected works published while he is still alive.

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