Morris, Michael (Michael Rowland)

views updated

Morris, Michael (Michael Rowland)


Education: Exeter College, Oxford, B.Phil.; Oriel College, Oxford, D.Phil.


Office—Department of Philosophy, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QN, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Oxford University, Oriel College, Oxford, England, Rank Xerox Senior Scholar, 1983-85; University of Sussex, Brighton, England, professor of philosophy, 1985—.


The Good and the True, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1992.

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to anthologies, including Current Issues in Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1998; Truthmakers: The Contemporary Debate, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2005; and Experience, Meaning, and Work: Philosophers on Music, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2007. Contributor to periodicals, including Phronesis, European Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy, and Philosophical Quarterly.


Professor Michael Morris began his career as a schoolteacher of English, but switched to philosophy and became the Rank Xerox Senior Scholar at Oriel College at Oxford University in England. "I think," he wrote in a biographical sketch published on the Sussex University Web site, "the company's representative had always been interested in the mind-body problem." After two years at Oriel, Morris accepted a position at Sussex University in Brighton, where he has taught courses ranging from the introduction to philosophy, Plato, aesthetics, and the philosophy of language.

Morris's first book, The Good and the True, tries "to set forth a theory of mental content based on the evaluation of behaviour," reviewer Hugh J. McCann wrote in Mind, "and to explore its associated metaphysics and value theoretic implications, which contrast markedly with most contemporary views." "Among the author's targets," McCann continued, "is what he calls ‘Platonism’: the view that the nature of the objects, properties, and facts to which our concepts correspond is fixed independently of those concepts." Instead, according to the Mind reviewer, Morris suggests that "we are able to see in behaviour itself most of what is normally thought to belong to the thoughts and feelings which may be cited to explain it." In other words, the true path that helps us understand the interior world is through the behavior of the individual. "To be in an intentional state—to have a belief or desire, or to possess a concept—," McCann continued, "is to be ‘liable’ to exhibit behavioural responses intrinsically assessable in evaluative terms." "As he puts it at one point," McCann concluded, "‘On the evaluative conception … to observe the behaviour is, literally, to observe the belief.’"

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language, according to Morris on the Sussex University Web site, "aims to guide students through the principal texts in the analytic tradition. Despite the fact that I am doubtful about the central assumptions of these texts, I think these are great works which need to be brought within the reach of ordinary undergraduates. Because the book's focus is on the great texts of the tradition, it amounts to a critical history of analytic philosophy of language, as well as giving students what I think they need: I hope it will provoke thought among the experts without being too partisan." "The book," concluded a reviewer writing for the Cambridge University Press Web site, "will be invaluable to students and to all readers who are interested in the nature of linguistic meaning."



British Book News, December, 1985, review of The Good and the True, p. 717.

Choice, October, 1993, review of The Good and the True, p. 306.

Ethics, January, 1995, G.F. Schueler, review of The Good and the True, p. 438.

Mind, January, 1994, Hugh J. McCann, review of The Good and the True, p. 99.

Philosophical Quarterly, April, 1994, Gregory McCulloch, review of The Good and the True, p. 268.


Cambridge University Press Web site, (January 29, 2008), review of An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language.

Sussex University Web site, (January 29, 2008), author biography.

About this article

Morris, Michael (Michael Rowland)

Updated About content Print Article