Judith Jarvis Thomson: The Dictionary of American Philosophers

In John R. Shook (ed.), The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. Oxford: (2005)
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THOMSON, Judith Jarvis (1929– ) Judith Jarvis Thomson received her BA from Barnard College in 1950, her MA from Cambridge University in 1956, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1959. Her first teaching position was at Barnard where she was a lecturer from 1955–9, an instructor from 1959–60, and then Assistant Professor from 1960–2. In 1963, she moved to Boston, first as an Assistant Professor at Boston University (1963–4), and then to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has remained ever since. She became full Professor in 1969, and between 1990 and 1996 held the Laurence S. Rockefeller Chair in Philosophy at MIT. She has received a large number of awards and honours, and contributed in many ways to professional philosophy in America. In 1992, she held the Presidency of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division), and in 1999, she gave the Tanner Lectures at Princeton University. She is Chair of the American Philosophical Association's Board of Officers for 2002-5, and gave the Association's Carus Lectures in 2003. She is also widely acknowledged as one of the best teachers of philosophy, and the excellence of the graduate program at MIT is due in no small measure to her influence. Thomson’s philosophical work ranges widely but her main areas of concentration are moral philosophy and metaphysics. In moral philosophy, Thomson has made seminal contributions to all three sub-fields of that discipline, applied ethics, moral theory and metaethics. (Indeed, the nature of her work makes these divisions seem somewhat artificial.) The papers gathered together in Rights, Restitution and Risk, and, since then, papers such as, ‘Self- Defence’, ‘Physician Assisted Suicide: Two Moral Arguments’ and ‘Assisted Suicide: The Philosophers Brief’ (written jointly with John RAWLS, Robert NOZICK, Ronald DWORKIN.



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