John Heil

Current Fellow

Fellow: Awarded 2018

Field of Study: Philosophy

Competition: US & Canada

John Heil is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St Louis, Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Durham University, and Honorary Research Associate at Monash University. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association.

Heil began his professional life working primarily in the philosophy of mind, including the philosophy of psychology and the philosophy of action. Five of his early career years were dedicated to research in departments of psychology – at Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley – and his first book, Perception and Cognition (University of California Press, 1983) addressed issues in the philosophy and psychology of perception. Over time Heil’s interests shifted to metaphysics, the focus of his two most recent monographs: From an Ontological Point of View (Oxford University Press 2006) and The Universe as We Find It (Oxford University Press 2012).

Heil’s current project, Appearance in Reality, addresses the venerable problem of the relation appearance bears to reality – the problem of reconciling what Wilfrid Sellars’ called the ‘manifest’ and ‘scientific’ images. The manifest image includes everyday ways of thinking about ourselves and the universe, supplemented by the special sciences. The scientific image proceeds from the ‘hard sciences’, most notably fundamental physics. The special sciences extend and refine everyday experience, while physics – as exemplified by quantum mechanics and general relativity – advances a picture apparently at odds with the picture afforded by the manifest image. The problem of reconciling these pictures is, in one form or another, a mainstay of virtually every philosophical tradition. (For more information, click here).

Profile photograph by D. J. Chalmers