Michael Devitt
Position: Distinguished Professor
Program: Philosophy
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center
Phone: (212) 817-8620
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. Harvard University
Michael Devitt, a student of the famous American empiricist Willard Van Orman Quine at Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D., has argued his realist position steadily over the years. His Realism and Truth is now in its third printing. He was also chosen as the spokesperson for naturalism (opposition to the a priori, or knowledge not derived from experience) in the volume Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, part of a series published by Blackwell that pits prominent philosophers with opposing views against one another.
 
Fighting for scientific realism is just one of Devitt’s preoccupations as a philosopher; he is also an incredibly prolific scholar in the areas of cognitive science and the philosophy of language. In Ignorance of Language (2008) he criticizes Chomskian views of the place of language in the mind. Since his first book, Designation (1981), he has been embroiled in a revolution in the “theory of reference,” a revolution that was instigated by the world-famous philosopher and logician Saul Kripke, who is also a member of the doctoral faculty in philosophy at the Graduate Center.