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Faculty of the Department

Professor Emeritus Charles Parsons Professor Emeritus
Charles Parsons
Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus
Emerson 201 617-495-8337
Charles Parsons was educated at Harvard, receiving his A.B. in mathematics in 1954 and his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1961. After teaching briefly at Cornell and Harvard, he joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1965 and remained there until 1989, serving for two terms as department chair and from 1966 to 1990 as an editor of the Journal of Philosophy. He came to Harvard in 1989 and became Edgar Pierce Professor in 1991.  He retired in 2005.  He has been an occasional visiting professor at UCLA.

Parsons has published papers on mathematical logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of logic and language, Kant, and historical figures in the foundations of mathematics, such as Frege, Hilbert, and Gödel. Some of his philosophical papers are collected in Mathematics in Philosophy (Cornell, 1983, reissued in paper, 2005). He was editor, with Solomon Feferman and others, of Volume III of the Collected Works of Kurt Gödel, Unpublished Essays and Lectures (Oxford, 1995), and of Volumes IV and V, Correspondence (Oxford, 2003).  He is author of Mathematical Thought and its Objects (Cambridge, 2008).

Some of his recent papers include "The problem of absolute universality," in Agustín Rayo and Gabriel Uzquiano (eds.), Absolute Generality (Oxford, 2006); "Paul Bernays' later philosophy of mathematics," in Costas Dimitracopoulos et al. (eds.), Logic Colloquium 2005 (Lecture Notes in Logic 28, Association for Symbolic Logic and Cambridge, 2008), pp. 129-150; "Gödel and philosophical idealism," Philosophia Mathematica (3) 18 (2010), 166-192; and "Quine's nominalism," American Philosophical Quarterly, forthcoming.

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