The 50 Most Influential Living Philosophers


People sometimes ask me “are there any philosophers alive today?” On the one hand, I totally get it. They are asking whether there is a modern day Plato or Socrates or Aquinas. On the other hand, after studying philosophy the last 6 years, this sounds to me like asking, “are any phycisists alive today or was Newton it?”

The answer is there are thousands of philosophers alive today. Will any of them be the next John Locke or David Hume? The answer is probably Yes, we just don’t know exactly whose influence will last the next 2000 years. But here’s a good start.

The Best has compiled a list of 50 most influential philosophers alive today. They say:

Contemporary philosophers are enormously influential right now. Take Princeton’s Peter Singer and his work on animal ethics. How society sees its responsibilities to nonhuman others owes much to Singer. Though usually not household names, contemporary philosophers have radically altered the way we think about all sorts of things — from the nature of God to the role of race in democracy.

Take a look at what 50 great philosophers are up to… Who will survive the sands of time? Only time will tell.

(Alphabetical Order):

  1. Kwame Anthony Appiah
  2. Alain Badiou
  3. Simon Blackburn
  4. Robert Brandom
  5. Tyler Burge
  6. Judith Butler
  7. Nancy Cartwright
  8. David Chalmers
  9. Noam Chomsky
  10. Andy Clark
  11. William Lane Craig
  12. Daniel Dennet
  13. Hubert Dreyfus
  14. Edmund Gettier
  15. Allan Gibbard
  16. Susan Haack
  17. Jurgen Habermas
  18. John Haldane
  19. Graham Harman
  20. John Hawthorne
  21. John Heil
  22. Ingvar Johansson
  23. Jaegwon Kim
  24. Christine Korsgaard
  25. Saul Kripke
  26. Alasdair MacIntyre
  27. John McDermott
  28. John McDowell
  29. Mary Midgley
  30. J.P. Moreland
  31. Timothy Morton
  32. Thomas Nagel
  33. Jean-Luc Nancy
  34. Martha Nussbaum
  35. David Oderberg
  36. Derek Parfit
  37. Graham Priest
  38. John Searle
  39. Peter Simons
  40. Peter Singer
  41. Barry Smith
  42. Ernest Sosa
  43. Helen Steward
  44. Charles Taylor
  45. Amie Thomasson
  46. Judith Jarvis Thomson
  47. Peter Unger
  48. Peter van Inwagen
  49. Cornel West
  50. Crispin Wright

(The methodology for building the list is here.)

I would add Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne to the list – but it’s a pretty good list.