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List of the most influential people in Philosophy, for the years 1970 – 2020

Jacques Derrida
# 1
Jacques Derrida

1930 - 2004 (74 years)

#101 person's overall influence

Jacques Derrida was an Algerian-born French philosopher best known for developing a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction, which he discussed in numerous texts, and developed in the context of phenomenology. He is one of the major figures associated with post-structuralism and postmodern philosophy.

Richard Rorty
# 2
Richard Rorty

1931 - 2007 (76 years)

#530 person's overall influence

Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher.

Daniel Dennett
# 3
Daniel Dennett

1942 - Present (79 years)

#171 person's overall influence

Currently appointed as the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University (and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies) Daniel Dennett is a philosopher concerned with questions of the mind and cognitive science, and is colloquially known as one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism.” As an undergraduate, Dennett studied at Wesleyan University and Harvard University before earning his PhD in philosophy at Oxford University in 1965.

Gilles Deleuze
# 4
Gilles Deleuze

1925 - 1995 (70 years)

#323 person's overall influence

Gilles Deleuze was a French philosopher who, from the early 1950s until his death in 1995, wrote on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus , both co-written with psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. His metaphysical treatise Difference and Repetition is considered by many scholars to be his magnum opus. An important part of Deleuze's oeuvre is devoted to the reading of other philosophers: the Stoics, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, and Bergson, with particular influence derived f

Jürgen Habermas
# 5
Jürgen Habermas

1929 - Present (92 years)

#106 person's overall influence

Jürgen Habermas is a German philosopher mostly associated with the influential Frankurt School in Germany, part of the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt, and historically an important center for research on social theory and critical philosophy. Habermas, now 90, earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Bonn in 1954. Habermas is a famed philosopher who has taught a number of influential philosophers, including Hans Joas at the University of Chicago.

John Rawls
# 6
John Rawls

1921 - 2002 (81 years)

#388 person's overall influence

John Bordley Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition. Rawls received both the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy and the National Humanities Medal in 1999, the latter presented by President Bill Clinton, in recognition of how Rawls' work "helped a whole generation of learned Americans revive their faith in democracy itself."

Murray Rothbard
# 7
Murray Rothbard

1926 - 1995 (69 years)

#557 person's overall influence

Murray Newton Rothbard was an American heterodox economist of the Austrian School, economic historian and political theorist. Rothbard was the founder and leading theoretician of anarcho-capitalism, a staunch advocate of historical revisionism and a central figure in the 20th-century American libertarian movement. He wrote over twenty books on political theory, revisionist history, economics, and other subjects.

Michel Foucault
# 8
Michel Foucault

1926 - 1984 (58 years)

#26 person's overall influence

Paul-Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic.

Robert Nozick
# 9
Robert Nozick

1938 - 2002 (64 years)

#1091 person's overall influence

Robert Nozick was an American philosopher. He held the Joseph Pellegrino University Professorship at Harvard University, and was president of the American Philosophical Association. He is best known for his books Philosophical Explanations , which included his counterfactual theory of knowledge, and Anarchy, State, and Utopia , a libertarian answer to John Rawls' A Theory of Justice , in which Nozick also presented his own theory of utopia as one in which people can freely choose the rules of the society they enter into. His other work involved ethics, decision theory, philosophy of mind, met

Saul Kripke
# 10
Saul Kripke

1940 - Present (81 years)

#2705 person's overall influence

Saul Kripke currently boasts the title of Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Unlike other philosophers on this list (and other notable academics in general) Kripke holds only a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, earned in 1962 at Harvard University. It is worth noting, however, that during his undergraduate studies Kripke taught a graduate-level logic course at MIT. He also holds numerous honorary degrees. Kripke has also taught at Harvard University, Rockefeller University, and Princeton University.

Hilary Putnam
# 11
Hilary Putnam

1926 - 2016 (90 years)

#708 person's overall influence

Hilary Whitehall Putnam was an American philosopher, mathematician, and computer scientist, and a major figure in analytic philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. He made significant contributions to philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of science. Outside philosophy, Putnam contributed to mathematics and computer science. Together with Martin Davis he developed the Davis–Putnam algorithm for the Boolean satisfiability problem and he helped demonstrate the unsolvability of Hilbert's tenth problem.

Noam Chomsky
# 12
Noam Chomsky

1928 - Present (93 years)

#40 person's overall influence

Noam Chomsky currently holds joint appointments at MIT as Institute Professor Emeritus, and the University of Arizona as Laureate Professor. Chomsky completed his university studies between the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.

David Chalmers
# 13
David Chalmers

1966 - Present (55 years)

#1702 person's overall influence

David Chalmers serves currently as Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University, as well as University Professor, Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science, and co-Director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness (with philosopher Ned Block) at New York University. One of the world’s most influential philosophers on the problem of consciousness, Chalmers has a degree in pure mathematics from the University of Adelaide in Australia, and received his Ph.D. in philosophy and cognitive science from Indiana University Bloomingt...

Willard Van Orman Quine
# 14
Willard Van Orman Quine

1908 - 2000 (92 years)

#474 person's overall influence

Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, recognized as "one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century." From 1930 until his death 70 years later, Quine was continually affiliated with Harvard University in one way or another, first as a student, then as a professor. He filled the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy at Harvard from 1956 to 1978.

Karl Popper
# 15
Karl Popper

1902 - 1994 (92 years)

#45 person's overall influence

Sir Karl Raimund Popper was an Austrian-born British philosopher, academic and social commentator.

John Searle
# 16
John Searle

1932 - Present (89 years)

#646 person's overall influence

John Rogers Searle is an American philosopher. He was Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Language and Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. Widely noted for his contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and social philosophy, he began teaching at UC Berkeley in 1959.

Martha Nussbaum
# 17
Martha Nussbaum

1947 - Present (74 years)

#860 person's overall influence

Currently, Martha Nussbaum holds the position of Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. Too influential to be confined to one department, Nussbaum is appointed to the faculty of both the philosophy department and the law school. As an undergraduate, Nussbaum spent two years at Wellesley College, before deciding to pursue theatre studies at New York University. After, Nussbaum completed her graduate studies and PhD at Harvard University.

# 18
Kevin Carson

1963 - Present (58 years)

#6921 person's overall influence

Kevin Carson is an American social theorist, self-proclaimed economist and anarchist who has identified at various times as a mutualist, individualist anarchist, left-wing market anarchist and anarchist without adjectives. He works as a Senior Fellow and Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory at the Center for a Stateless Society. Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy aims to revive interest in mutualism in an effort to synthesize Austrian School economics with the labor theory of value by attempting to incorporate both subjectivism and time preference.

Alasdair Macintyre
# 19
Alasdair Macintyre

1929 - Present (92 years)

#1090 person's overall influence

Alasdair MacIntyre is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics (CASEP) at London Metropolitan University. He is also Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and Permanent Senior Distinguished Research Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. MacIntyre received his early philosophical training at the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford.

Ayn Rand
# 20
Ayn Rand

1905 - 1982 (77 years)

#209 person's overall influence

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own peri...

Richard Dawkins
# 21
Richard Dawkins

1941 - Present (80 years)

#12 person's overall influence

Richard Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and former University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science, but he is best known for his work in evolutionary biology. He studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford, earning a bachelor’s degree, M.A., and Ph.D.

Donald Davidson
# 22
Donald Davidson

1917 - 2003 (86 years)

#2058 person's overall influence

Donald Herbert Davidson was an American philosopher. He served as Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley from 1981 to 2003 after having also held teaching appointments at Stanford University, Rockefeller University, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago. Davidson was known for his charismatic personality and the depth and difficulty of his thought. His work exerted considerable influence in many areas of philosophy from the 1960s onward, particularly in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and action theory. While Davidson was an analyti...

Michael Dummett
# 23
Michael Dummett

1925 - 2011 (86 years)

#2614 person's overall influence

Sir Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett was an English academic described as "among the most significant British philosophers of the last century and a leading campaigner for racial tolerance and equality." He was, until 1992, Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford. He wrote on the history of analytic philosophy, notably as an interpreter of Frege, and made original contributions particularly in the philosophies of mathematics, logic, language and metaphysics. He was known for his work on truth and meaning and their implications to debates between realism and anti-realism, a term

Jean-Paul Sartre
# 24
Jean-Paul Sartre

1905 - 1980 (75 years)

#95 person's overall influence

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism. His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines.

Charles Taylor
# 25
Charles Taylor

1931 - Present (90 years)

#1193 person's overall influence

Charles Taylor is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at McGill University, Canada. He is known best for his contributions to political philosophy, the philosophy of social science, and the philosophy of history and intellectual history. Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in History from McGill in 1953. As a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, Taylor took a first-class bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) from Oxford in 1961. Notably, his supervisor was Isaiah Berlin, the renowned British social and political theorist.

Jean-François Lyotard
# 26
Jean-François Lyotard

1924 - 1998 (74 years)

#1576 person's overall influence

Jean-François Lyotard was a French philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist. His interdisciplinary discourse spans such topics as epistemology and communication, the human body, modern art and postmodern art, literature and critical theory, music, film, time and memory, space, the city and landscape, the sublime, and the relation between aesthetics and politics. He is best known for his articulation of postmodernism after the late 1970s and the analysis of the impact of postmodernity on the human condition. Lyotard was a key personality in contemporary Continental philosophy and author

# 27
Félix Guattari

1930 - 1992 (62 years)

#1198 person's overall influence

Pierre-Félix Guattari was a French psychotherapist, philosopher, semiologist, activist and screenwriter. He founded both schizoanalysis and ecosophy, and is best known for his intellectual collaborations with Gilles Deleuze, most notably Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus , the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia.

Saul Newman
# 28
Saul Newman

1972 - Present (49 years)

#14265 person's overall influence

Saul Newman is a British political theorist and central post-anarchist thinker.

John McDowell
# 29
John McDowell

1942 - Present (79 years)

#4934 person's overall influence

John Henry McDowell is a South African philosopher, formerly a Fellow of University College, Oxford and now University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Although he has written extensively on metaphysics, epistemology, ancient philosophy, and meta-ethics, McDowell's most influential work has been in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. McDowell was one of three recipients of the 2010 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Distinguished Achievement Award, and is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the British Academy.

Thomas Kuhn
# 30
Thomas Kuhn

1922 - 1996 (74 years)

#203 person's overall influence

Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American philosopher of science whose 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term paradigm shift, which has since become an English-language idiom.

Hans-Georg Gadamer
# 31
Hans-Georg Gadamer

1900 - 2002 (102 years)

#1134 person's overall influence

Hans-Georg Gadamer was a German philosopher of the continental tradition, best known for his 1960 magnum opus Truth and Method on hermeneutics.

Thomas Nagel
# 32
Thomas Nagel

1937 - Present (84 years)

#1088 person's overall influence

Currently holding the title of University Professor of Philosophy and Law, Emeritus at New York University, Thomas Nagel previously held positions at the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University, among others. Nagel earned a BA in philosophy from Cornell University in 1958, a BPhil in 1960 at the University of Oxford (as a Fulbright scholar, and studying under JL Austin, no less), and his PhD from Harvard University in 1963.

Umberto Eco
# 33
Umberto Eco

1932 - 2016 (84 years)

#330 person's overall influence

Umberto Eco was an Italian medievalist, philosopher, semiotician, cultural critic, political and social commentator, and novelist. In English, he is best known for his popular 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, a historical mystery combining semiotics in fiction with biblical analysis, medieval studies, and literary theory, and Foucault's Pendulum, his 1988 novel which touches on similar themes.

Judith Butler
# 34
Judith Butler

1956 - Present (65 years)

#565 person's overall influence

Judith Butler is the Maxine Ellio Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy at Yale University in 1978, and her PhD at Yale in 1984. In addition to UC Berkeley, Butler has taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and the University of Amsterdam.

Peter Singer
# 35
Peter Singer

1946 - Present (75 years)

#4615 person's overall influence

Peter Singer is a well-known Australian moral philosopher, Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, and Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He studied at the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford.

Douglas Hofstadter
# 36
Douglas Hofstadter

1945 - Present (76 years)

#885 person's overall influence

Douglas Richard Hofstadter is an American scholar of cognitive science, physics, and comparative literature whose research includes concepts such as the sense of self in relation to the external world, consciousness, analogy-making, artistic creation, literary translation, and discovery in mathematics and physics. His 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid won both the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and a National Book Award for Science. His 2007 book I Am a Strange Loop won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology.

Alvin Plantinga
# 37
Alvin Plantinga

1932 - Present (89 years)

#3672 person's overall influence

Alvin Plantinga currently holds the title of the William Harry Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin University. Previously, Plantinga has taught at Wayne State University and the University of Notre Dame. Additionally, Plantinga was the president of the American Philosophical Association, Western Division from 1981 to 1982. As an undergraduate, Plantinga studied at Jamestown College, Calvin College, and Harvard University. Plantinga went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Michigan, before transferring to Yale University in 1955 and earning his PhD there in 1958.

Patricia Churchland
# 38
Patricia Churchland

1943 - Present (78 years)

#2261 person's overall influence

Patricia Churchland is UC President’s Professor of Philosophy Emerita at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She is also an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Churchland has made important contributions to the philosophy of mind and philosophical topics in neurobiology. She received her undergraduate education from the University of British Columbia, Canada. She received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to study at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her master’s degree. She received a B.Phil. at the University of Oxford in 1969.

Sally Haslanger
# 39
Sally Haslanger

1950 - Present (71 years)

#18348 person's overall influence

Sally Haslanger, currently appointed the Ford Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), completed her undergraduate education at Reed College in 1977, and earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. Currently the most influential person in philosophy, Haslanger has previously held appointments in the Ivy league, at Princeton University and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Martin Heidegger
# 40
Martin Heidegger

1889 - 1976 (87 years)

#94 person's overall influence

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition of philosophy. He is best known for contributions to phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism.

Roderick Long
# 41
Roderick Long

1964 - Present (57 years)

#5986 person's overall influence

Currently holding the title of Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University, Roderick Long is known for his work in left-libertarianism. Long earned a BA in philosophy at Harvard University in 1985 and a PhD in 1992. Long has also taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Michigan, and the Institute for Humane Studies. Outside of teaching, Long is an editor with the Journal of Libertarian Studies and president of the Molinari Institute and Molinari Society.

Bernard Stiegler
# 42
Bernard Stiegler

1952 - 2020 (68 years)

#4504 person's overall influence

Bernard Stiegler was a French philosopher. He was head of the Institut de recherche et d'innovation , which he founded in 2006 at the Centre Georges-Pompidou. He was also the founder in 2005 of the political and cultural group, Ars Industrialis, and the founder in 2010 of the philosophy school, pharmakon.fr, held at Épineuil-le-Fleuriel. His best known work is Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus.

Bob Black
# 43
Bob Black

1951 - Present (70 years)

#15027 person's overall influence

Robert Charles Black Jr. is an American author and anarchist. He is the author of the books The Abolition of Work and Other Essays, Beneath the Underground, Friendly Fire, Anarchy After Leftism, and Defacing the Currency, and numerous political essays.

Jean Baudrillard
# 44
Jean Baudrillard

1929 - 2007 (78 years)

#1269 person's overall influence

Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorist. He is best known for his analyses of media, contemporary culture, and technological communication, as well as his formulation of concepts such as simulation and hyperreality. He wrote about diverse subjects, including consumerism, gender relations, economics, social history, art, Western foreign policy, and popular culture. Among his best known works are Seduction , Simulacra and Simulation , America , and The Gulf War Did Not Take Place . His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and specifically post-st...

Sam Harris
# 45
Sam Harris

1967 - Present (54 years)

#1860 person's overall influence

Samuel Benjamin Harris is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and podcast host. His work touches on a wide range of topics, including rationality, religion, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, psychedelics, philosophy of mind, politics, terrorism, and artificial intelligence. Harris came to prominence for his criticism of religion, and Islam in particular, and is described as one of the "Four Horsemen of Atheism", along with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

Alain Badiou
# 46
Alain Badiou

1937 - Present (84 years)

#3199 person's overall influence

Alain Badiou is formerly chair of Philosophy at the École normale supérieure (ENS), and is a founder of the faculty of Philosophy of the Université de Paris VIII along with French philosophy luminaries Michel Foucault and Jean-François Lyotard. Badiou though associated with postmodern thinkers like Foucault maintains that his thought and work cannot be described adequately by postmodernism, though it is not also purely modern. He is a prominent advocate of a return to communism as a form of government.

Emmanuel Levinas
# 47
Emmanuel Levinas

1906 - 1995 (89 years)

#1403 person's overall influence

Emmanuel Levinas was a French philosopher of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry who is known for his work related to Jewish philosophy, existentialism, ethics, phenomenology and ontology.

Harry Frankfurt kunno
# 48
Harry Frankfurt kunno

1929 - Present (92 years)

#9406 person's overall influence

Harry Gordon Frankfurt is an American philosopher. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught from 1990 until 2002, and previously taught at Yale University, Rockefeller University, and Ohio State University.

# 49
Paul Churchland

1942 - Present (79 years)

#3517 person's overall influence

Paul Churchland is a Canadian philosopher who is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies of Moscow State University, Russia. Churchland graduated from the University of British Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in 1964. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964. His advisor was the famous 20th century philosopher Wilfred Sellars.

Francis Fukuyama
# 50
Francis Fukuyama

1952 - Present (69 years)

#1141 person's overall influence

Francis Fukuyama is director of Stanford University’s Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy and Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, as well as a senior fellow for the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Fukuyama earned a B.A. in classics from Cornell University and a Ph.D in political science from Harvard University. He has been involved with the Telluride Association, a high school outreach program, since he was an undergrad at Cornell University.