Kieran Setiya

Kieran Setiya teaches philosophy at MIT. He is the author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, and is working on a book about philosophy and adversity.


Nothing Matters

22 February 2024

Terry Eagleton begins his recent piece on Hegel with a deprecating anecdote: ‘The Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle claimed he had once talked a student out of suicide by pointing out to him that the logic of “nothing matters” is very different from that of, for example, “nothing chatters”’ (LRB, 22 February). It’s a story Eagleton enjoys: it appears in his Literary Theory (1983), After...
Philip Kitcher is right to insist on the social impact of past philosophy, which I facetiously downplayed in my review of his book (Letters, 1 June). But I think he’s wrong about the trajectory of the field in the last fifty years. ‘Philosophy has turned inward,’ Kitcher writes, ‘generating scores of articles whose topics are “A’s defence of Y-ism against B’s version of the Z-objection”...

Quadruple Tremolo: Philosophy Then

Kieran Setiya, 4 May 2023

In August​ 1977, the New York Times ran a profile of the philosopher Saul Kripke, then 36 years old. Aged 17, he had proved a new result in modal logic – the logic of necessity and possibility – by building a mathematical model of ‘possible worlds’. He went on to transform philosophy, reviving dormant metaphysical questions. What makes us the particular people we are?...


Right and Wrong

3 June 2021

Thomas Nagel considers the view that standards of right and wrong are to be explained in terms of good and bad consequences (LRB, 3 June). He says this ‘possibility was given the name “consequentialism” by Elizabeth Anscombe’ and defends instead a ‘deontological’ view in which right and wrong have independent force. Although ‘consequentialism’ has come to have the meaning Nagel gives,...

The Ramsey Effect

Kieran Setiya, 18 February 2021

Picture,​ if you can, a single person with the talents of Keats, Schubert and Seurat: an inspired poet, a prodigious composer, a revolutionary painter, a figure of unlimited promise who died, like them, in his youthful prime. If you replace poetry, music and painting with mathematics, economics and philosophy, the person you end up with is Frank Plumpton Ramsey. A fellow of King’s...

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences