Colin McGinn

Colin McGinn a reader in philosophy at University College London, is soon to take up the position of Wilde Reader in Mental Philosophy at Oxford. He is the author of Wittgenstein on Meaning.


Good Things

5 September 1996

Philippa Foot (Letters, 3 October) says that I ‘was wrong to suggest that Gavin Lawrence’s work is derived from [Warren] Quinn’s’. But I suggested no such thing: I said it was odd that Lawrence didn’t mention Quinn’s work in view of the similarity between them and their professional proximity. I had no information on the question of influence. After all, people do often cite each other...

Good Things

Colin McGinn, 5 September 1996

Suppose I perform an action certified by morality as good – say, giving money to charity. I then do something good because it is good. We might say that this action had the moral property goodness and that in acknowledging this to be so I had a reason to perform it. Anyone else has an equal reason to perform the same action, which is good no matter who performs it. Thus, generalising: morality is aptly seen as a set of principles that ascribe values to states of affairs and thereby provide reasons for bringing those states of affairs about. Morality says what we ought to do and in so far as we grasp its dictates we have the reasons it specifies: we know what we ought to do, and that we ought to do it is a reason for doing it.


Colin McGinn, 21 March 1996

Wittgenstein to John Maynard Keynes:



2 December 1993

Hilary Putnam’s letter (Letters, 24 February) begins by stating that my review of his Renewing Philosophy ‘is in content not a book review, but a polemic, and as such requires a response’. I am unclear what distinction he intends here: surely my piece was simply a (highly) critical book review. The question is whether my description of his views was correct and whether my criticisms were justified....

In and out of the mind

Colin McGinn, 2 December 1993

In a neglected passage in The Problems of Philosophy Bertrand Russell unapologetically writes:

Avoiding Colin

Frank Kermode, 6 August 1992

Once there were popular books with titles like Straight and Crooked Thinking, books in which professional philosophers, avoiding arcane speculation, tried to make the rest of us more sensible by...

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Too hard for our kind of mind?

Jerry Fodor, 27 June 1991

Whatever, you may be wondering, became of the mind-body problem? This new collection of Colin McGinn’s philosophical papers is as good a place to find out as any I know of. Published over a...

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Putnam’s Change of Mind

Ian Hacking, 4 May 1989

Big issues and little issues: among established working philosophers there is none more gifted at making us think anew about both than Hilary Putnam. His latest book is motivated by large...

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An End to Anxiety

Barry Stroud, 18 July 1985

Wittgenstein predicted that his work would not be properly understood and appreciated. He said it was written in a different spirit from that of the main stream of European and American...

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Brian O’Shaughnessy, 1 April 1983

The philosophy of mind is a branch of the philosophy of nature. But it has this peculiarity, that the very item that conjures up its questions and vets its answers is the very part of nature...

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