Peter K. Unger

Philosopher, Academic

1942 –


Who is Peter K. Unger?

Peter K. Unger is a contemporary American philosopher and professor at New York University. His main interests lie in the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of mind. He attended Swarthmore College at the same time as David Lewis, earning a B.A. in philosophy in 1962, and Oxford University, where he studied under A. J. Ayer and earned a doctorate in 1966.

Unger has written a defense of profound philosophical skepticism. In Ignorance, he argues that nobody knows anything and even that nobody is reasonably or justified in believing anything.

In Philosophical Relativity, he argues that many philosophical questions cannot be definitively answered.

In the field of applied ethics, his main work is his 1995 book Living High and Letting Die. There he argues that we have a moral duty to make large donations to life-saving charities, and that once we have given all of our own money and possessions, beyond what is needed to survive, we should give what belongs to others, even if we have to beg, borrow, or steal in the process.

In "The Mental Problems of the Many", he argues for Substantial Interactionist Dualism on questions of mind and matter: that each of us is an immaterial soul. The argument is extended and fortified in his 2006 book All the Power in the World.

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Apr 25, 1942
New York City
Also known as
  • Dr. Peter Unger
  • Peter Unger
  • Peter Kenneth Unger
  • United States of America
  • Swarthmore College
  • PhD, University of Oxford
    ( - 1966)
Lived in
  • New York

on July 23, 2013


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