John Hawthorne

John Patrick Hawthorne[1] FBA (born 1964) is an English philosopher, currently serving as Professor of Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne,[3] and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California.[4] He is recognized as a leading contemporary contributor to metaphysics and epistemology.[5]

John Hawthorne

John Patrick Hawthorne

(1964-05-25) 25 May 1964
Birmingham, England
Other namesJohn O'Leary-Hawthorne
Alma mater
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
ThesisPublic Meaning and Mental Content[1][2] (1990)
Doctoral advisorJonathan Bennett[2]
Main interests

Early life and career

Hawthorne was born on 25 May 1964 in Birmingham, England.[6] He earned his PhD from Syracuse University, where he studied with William Alston and Jonathan Bennett. From 2006 to 2015, he was the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He has also taught at the University of New South Wales, Arizona State University, Syracuse University, Rutgers University, and Princeton University.

Philosophical work

Hawthorne's 2006 collection Metaphysical Essays offers original treatments of fundamental topics in philosophy, including identity, ontology, vagueness, and causation, which one reviewer called "essential reading for anyone currently engaged in analytic metaphysics".[7]

In his book Knowledge and Lotteries, Hawthorne defends a view in epistemology according to which the presence of knowledge is dependent on the subject's interests (he calls this view "Subject-Sensitive Invariantism").[8] Unlike contextualism, Hawthorne's view does not require that the meaning of the word "know" changes from one context of ascription to another. His view is thus a variety of invariantism. However, whether a subject has knowledge depends to a surprising extent on features of the subject's context, including practical concerns. The American philosopher Jason Stanley holds a similar view.[9]

Hawthorne has also written on philosophy of language and philosophical logic, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.



Edited books

  • Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology (edited with Matthew A. Benton and Dani Rabinowitz, Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics (edited with Theodore Sider and Dean Zimmerman, Blackwell, 2007)
  • Perceptual Experience (edited with Tamar Gendler, Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Conceivability and Possibility (edited with Tamar Gendler, Oxford University Press, 2002)


  1. Hawthorne, John Patrick (1990). Public Meaning and Mental Content (PhD dissertation). Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University. OCLC 78441217.
  2. "Doctoral Dissertations, 1990–91". The Review of Metaphysics. 45 (1): 198. 1991. ISSN 2154-1302. JSTOR 20129169.
  5. "The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics: Hardback: Michael J. Loux". Oxford University Press. 2003-08-28. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  6. Hawthorne, John (2018). "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Los Angeles: University of Southern California. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  8. McGrath, Matthew (6 August 2004). "Knowledge and Lotteries". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Dorothy Edgington
Waynflete Professor of
Metaphysical Philosophy

Succeeded by
Ofra Magidor

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